Published on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 19:33
Band: Ritual Reaper
Album title: Plague-Ridden Kingdom
Release date: 24 June 2013
Label: Nighttripper Records
01. Cold Evil (Megaton Aftermath)
02. Devil Ritual
03. Ancient Annunaki
04. Golden Goat
05. Mirrors Of Tavern Hell
It seems lately that every album that I start reviewing initially, at least from image side, gives the idea of different music as its witnessed later while listening to it. Ritual Reaper, judging from albums artwork and band pictures, can be easily confused with a black metal band. This Swedish trio is settled in gothic rock waters, but not in traditional ones, they are pretty modern. The main themes that occupy their minds are occultism, magic and similar mystical things. Plague-Ridden Kingdom is their debut release and after hearing it seems like that this band is playing together for decades. There's little known about them, but nevertheless one thing is sure - this is one of the biggest revelations in gothic genre this year.
As the opener "Cold Evil (Megaton Aftermath)" kicks off the initial melody, backened with strong bass line and great drum beats in a pure gothic rock manner we get aware that they're not joking aroud. Vocals are deep, emotional, smooth and strong at the same time. As the Plague-Ridden Kingdom continues there's noticeable a huge influence of goth bands from late 90's and new millennium, like for example later era of Love Like Blood, Scream Silence, early The 69 Eyes, mid-period Lacrimas Profundere, maybe a bit of Type O Negative here and there and even some horror rock/metal like The Vision Bleak use to perform. Everything is well balanced together with traditional rock side of The Sisters Of Mercy legacy. All song have an extraordinary flowing structure, each melody is catchy, but not "sweet" as someone could think. There are enough of really heavy guitar riffs, sometimes some simple retro leads and riffs are wisely inserted into the whole picture, gloomy synths in the background add the necessary dark feeling and make an astonishing haunting atmosphere, just listen to the "Golden Goat". Vocals are far from being monotone and are dynamic like hell, whether is time for softer, darker or even more aggressive lines, the finest example is "Devil Ritual". The atmosphere created is dense and it doesn't lessen through the whole release. The last track up here "Mirrors Of Tavern Hell" starts with ease and has very interested development, quite mesmerizeing refrain, some dark solemn keys and ends with thunderous metalic guitars, blasting drums, kind of operatic voice and main vocals that should wake the devil himself.
Although we cannot talk about original product here, Plague-Ridden Kingdom is well balanced and very consistent. It's modern, but at the same time it could appeal also to those sworn traditional gothic rock lovers. Very good, yet deep, clear, but rough enough production that keeps thing non-commercial, interesting and sharp image and thematics are the things that place Ritual Reaper in kind-of special position within gothic scene of today. I hope that the band is already working on their full lenght album and that they won't lose the pace that they've achived with this EP. A must for all gothsters out there!
Review written by: T.V.