Review: NOMADIC RITUALS – “Marking the Day”… Posted: 15/02/2017 by Philip Morrissey
Can we experimentally observe evidence of higher spatial dimensions? The mantra of a band operating on a different spectrum to many. NOMADIC RITUALS may have only been recent additions to the Irish horizon but have caused a great stir already. Whether through seeing them at venues around the country, or their recorded output so far, they have certainly made a mark. Tentatively described as being a doom metal band, the overall feel is that of a drone band with influences from classic progressive rock.
The drone side of extreme music has certainly made its presence felt on the Irish scene. The likes of KAWTIKS, ÍWERIÚ and now SOOTHSAYER have been bringing elements of it on the Cork scene for the past few years. Recent additions to the Dublin horizon, GOURD and EORÐESLAJYR have impressive many with their tentative releases so far. Northern degenerates SCALD have incorporated many sounds during their lifetime including Drone, whilst recent additions THE CRAWLING impressed many at the recent Siege with their bleak and wretched intonations. This has allowed scope for bands to explore different elements and use it as befits them.
For many, this was an eagerly awaited release. The stir created by their “DFWG” demo, led many to pick up their debut “Holy Giants” LP in 2013. Typically, this contained a brevity of tracks (three in this case) but an abundance of ideas and riffs. Since then, all has been relatively quiet. The band played a few one-off dates to build themselves up and explore new territories. Their shows with SOOTHSAYER at the Cork Community Print Shop were a revelation for example. A split emerged in 2015 with fellow sludge merchants, TOME, helped provide a degree of relief for those needing their fix. The next step was to go back into the studio and release new material. It has been cited as a concept album regarding the birth and death of the cosmos and our place within it. Weighty stuff indeed.
From the very opening of this new album, you cannot help but to be drawn in. ‘From Nothing’ begins with an absolutely gorgeous instrumental piece that combines understated bass work from Craig Carson and a sublimely glistening cymbal backing from Mark Smyth. It brings to mind the great fusion albums created by King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra. The sense of tension builds as Feedback from Peter Hunter’s guitar gradually appears and swallows up the sound before launching into an absolutely dirty riff. The mixing work done on this is commendable. This coincides with Carson’s vocals that appear inhuman. The ground feels like it is opening up beneath your feet and destined to drag you below. Ages pass with little in the way of life. All that exits is the earth shaking tones created.
‘Expansion’ kicks off with a fuzzed up bass riff that rises and falls. Feedback make its presence felt that brings to mind the sludge work of CROWBAR and EYEHATEGOD. The drumming evokes a different response. We could almost be rough-riders travelling through a desolate waste land á la Mad Max. They become increasingly more sounding to accentuate its bleakness. The screaming vocals only help to portray a sense of horror than anything else. It finishes off with the percussion dropping off in a deluge of feedback and sound effects and perhaps a nod towards their HAWKWIND influences.
The bleak vocals encountered so far are replaced in parts of ‘Far From the Sun’ to great effect. Almost hypnoticwhen set against the slow pace and weight of the music. The darkness alluded to in the title is replicated with the return of harsher vocals that bookend a chant like mid-section. At points it is harrowing and torturous. The sound effects created when set against the bass on ‘Watching the Cycles’ is extremely trippy and puts the listener into some sort of cosmetic event. An audio piece is played briefly before the vocals kick in. Bass crashes against drums that seem like the collision of heavenly bodies above us. ‘Narrowing of the light’ begins with a maelstrom of drums and sound effects over a Noam Chomsky speech. It provides a brief respite before the band rush headlong into the riff driven monster.
The best is still kept for the very end. Fourteen minutes is crammed into ‘Face-down in the Sea of Oblivion’. Given the events that preceded it, we can only assume that we have reached the point of no return due to our destructive nature. A vaguely industrial feel sets us off before the return of the chanting vocals from earlier. This descends down into their familiarly grim and downbeat timbre. Events quieten down half-way through with delicate plucking, eerie effects of winds blowing across deserted spaces and restrained drumming. This builds with with increasing unease over the next minute or so as NOMADIC RITUALS lays on the pace and the weight of it all. It all reaches a crescendo with crashing cymbals, fuzzed up guitars, frenetic vocals and throbbing bass lines. A sign of things to come?
Reviewing albums and bands can be a difficult process. Often you have to deal with releases that require a great deal of effort with which to listen to all the way through. Some have been sloppily put together, others being carbon copies of their influences. More are just bland and uninteresting. When an album of genuine quality comes around, it pays to afford them a greater level of appreciation. It is rare that you get one that you actually want to listen to. And then put it on again. And all this from an Irish band who have been operating for the last five years… Even better. Clearly there is an awful lot of thought and creativity that went into the development of this album. Much credit to Niall Doran from Start Together Studios and Brad Boatwright for their recording and mastering of this. The band have even developed artwork for each individual piece in the album to describe different elements.
A launch party is set for Voodoo in Belfast on 17th February. The band will be playing the album in full and will be joined by the likes of WAR IRON, SOOTHSAYER and MAW on the night (please bring this line-up to Cork, too). Physical copies will be available on the night itself. Definitely worth getting to.