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Ritual Reaper - Necessary Evil (2017) - Review

Band: Ritual Reaper
Album title: Necessary Evil
Release date: 12 May 2017
Label: Gothic Music Records

01. Distant Shores
02. Sunlight Skull
03. Sweet Radium (21 Days)
04. Interstellar Traveller
05. Queen Snow Kill
06. Salto Mortal
07. The Living Fire
08. Cold Evil (Megaton Aftermath) (Remastered 2017)
09. Devil Ritual (Remastered 2017)
10. Ancient Annunaki (Remastered 2017)
11. Golden Goat (Remastered 2017)
12. Mirrors Of Tavern Hell (Remastered 2017)
13. Sulfur Salt Mercury (Remastered 2017)
14. Queen Snow Slaughtered (Radio Edit)

It looks and it reads like some satanic black metal, but it's not, actually far from it, this is nobody else than Swedish trio Ritual Reaper, who after four years of silence returns with a new release. Necessary Evil can be counted as the first proper full-length of this band, which was formed in 2012 by the guitarist Juhu Korhonen aka Pallbearer, of the legendary Swedish goth rock act Malaise. Joined by ex-Malaise bassist Demonizer and Reverend, known as vocalist in goth band O-Kult. Ok, Necessary Evil consists of two EP's, their first one, Plague-Ridden Kingdom, originally released in 2013, now remastered, which at that time I reviewed over HERE and the new one The Living Fire. The album got released back in May this year, but due to the fact that it passed by a bit overlooked and because it is absolutely one of the best gothic rock releases of 2017 I decided to give it some words.

Ritual Reaper are deeply rooted in the occult world, maybe that's the reason why their imagery looks like a black or at least horror metal thing, nevertheless, what they offer is occult gothic rock, an intriguing mix of old school gothic stuff, second wave of goth from 90s, and of some gothic rock derivates like are Héroes del Silencio, The 69 Eyes, Dreadful Shadows or even HIM, Type O Negative and Deathstars to some extent. This kind of goth crossover, which is pretty coherent, gives to this band some kind of charm and interestingly enough their own vibe. Ritual Reaper simply know how to compose driving gothic rock with memorable refrains full of power and captivating melodic lines that get easily stuck in your head.

If I compare the two EP's I can easily say that the new one has even more emphasis on catchy, sing along refrains and it's more emotive, somehow it's obvious that the band progressed in compositional style, as well the production is better. The remastering of the first EP added some depth and richness to the tracks, and if I already liked vocals before, I must say that now, on new tracks, it sounds even better, there's more texture, it feels a bit more direct and soul consuming. Vocals are absolutely one of the strongest things here, deep baritone with necessary gritty twists and turns, offering now even more emotions than before. Typical gothic rock guitar lines with some pretty heavy riffs and very catchy melodies are simply breathtaking. Then I was amazed by great and dense gloominess created by synths and some electronic samples. Strong rhythmic line with a bit too artificial drum beats also serves well to add the necessary power.

Ater the intro "Distant Shores" which, because of its haunting apocalyptic atmosphere, feels like being taken from one of Near Earth Orbit or Merciful Nun's album, is followed by the only track which seems a bit out of place here. The upbeat "Sunlight Skull" is both, compositional and productional, sounding like a garage demo version of the track taken from their first EP, even though that it has good driving guitars it can't be really compared with what follows. "Sweet Radium (21 Days)" and "Queen Snow Kill" are both perfect examples of how to make gothic rock with amazing refrains that you'll have on repeat for quite some time. Haunting, mystical, melodic, just enough melancholic and rather danceable are the words that best describe it. Lush gothy synths and popy catchy rhythms with some nicely used electronics form just a perfect seamless musical form. The rather adventurous and mysterious "Interstellar Traveler" with addition of female vocals is simply breathtaking, and the evocative "Salto Mortal" with gently implemented gothic metal vibe and such a great sing along refrain, plus so very haunting atmosphere, is a killer from start to finish. As a bonus we get a radio edit or better said a reworked version of "Queen Snow Kill" called "Queen Snow Slaughtered". The rest of the album is reserved for the remastered version of the EP Plague-Ridden Kingdom, of which I won't talk, you can check out my full review of it.

Ritual Reaper did a stunning job, maybe the production could still be a bit better, but I think that the guys wanted it to be a bit more rough and with kind of old-school edge, just to keep this underground aura present inside the songs. Anyway, Necessary Evil is one of the albums that simply must be in the collection of every fan of gothic rock, no matter if old or young, it has that thing that will appeal to all. The music that Ritual Reaper make has enough fire, blood and also evident Nordic coldness, to guarantee you an astonishing almost one hour long interstellar gothic rock experience.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10