Thursday 6 August 2020

BURN RITUAL ~ THE VOID ...... review

Q; When is a band no longer a band? A; When it's just one man! Ok Desert Psychlist supposes that deserves some sort of explanation, well here goes..... 
Burn Ritual was originally the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jake Lewis who realized he'd stumbled onto something good when interest in his debut EP , "Like Suffering"  surpassed all of his expectations. For Burn Ritual's next album "Blood of the Raven" Lewis put together a band and once again was delighted with the response the album garnered from all quarters. Lewis, a man who always likes to keep busy, then went on to explore other musical avenues with his project Gypsybyrd, again to critical acclaim. Unfortunately by the time it came for Lewis to revive Burn Ritual for a new album Covid-19 had wreaked its havoc on the world and getting a band back together was no longer a viable proposition, so with Lewis being somewhat of a workaholic  the only option left was to bite the bullet and go back to doing everything himself., the results of which can be heard on Burn Ritual/Lewis' latest release " The Void" (vinyl; Kozmik Atifactz , CD/cassette Forbidden Place Records).

"The Void" opens its account with "Lust For The Dead" a number that begins with  Night Gallery/ Twilight Zone type sampled narrative, telling of voodoo and black magic, then segues into a proto-doomic groove driven by strong insistent rhythms and decorated with dark circular guitar refrains over which Lewis layers, ever so slightly sneered, vocals drenched in tones of wicked mischievousness. For title track "The Void" Lewis dials in his vocals distant, hazy and mantra(ish) over a plodding bass heavy doom groove interspersed with dank thrumming guitar textures resulting in a groove, not dissimilar to something Welsh weed rockers Dope Smoker might attempt, only with a slower thicker dynamic. "They Crawl" follows and here Lewis raises the tempo to rocking with a chugging riff that is probably more Budgie than it is Sabbath over which he injects an ear catching vocal hook and melody. Lewis goes back to the low, slow and heavy for "Bringer of Evil", a song that borders on the edges of stoner doom, while for "Mark of the Witch" he goes into full Sabbath mode with Ozzy(ish) nasal tones to the fore and Iommi-like riffage locked and loaded. Heavily distorted guitar introduces "Tranquilized" and again highlights Lewis' knack for combining might with melody, the songs thick recurring guitar refrain offset by Lewis'  vocal telling us in hazy clean tones to "look into my eyes, I'll tranquilize" . Next up is "The Conqueror" a brief but highly enjoyable lysergic laced instrumental built around a dark reverberating guitar motif, Proceedings are then brought to a close with "Evil Lie" a dark moody doomic tome made even more atmospheric by Lewis' use of  keyboards to add texture and depth to the songs already quite sinister aura.

Jake Lewis is a self confessed worshipper at the altar of Black Sabbath so it come as no surprise that much of what informs "The Void" has a strong Sabbathesque quality. Lewis, however, sets his grooves apart from others bands and artists, with similar Sabbath leanings, by not not going down the route of tying together a constant and shifting array of riffs to create one song but instead strips things back to just one or two to achieve an Indian drone like effect that when combined with his hazy vocals and lysergic laced guitar textures gives everything a very pleasing hypnotic feel, and results in eight songs that could easily be described as mystical mantra's for metalheads 
Check 'em out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

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