Despite the fact that the album title reads as if Impetuous Ritual chose it using Death Metal Mad Libs, this album is anything but random in concept and performance. No, this soul-rending slab of doom-laced death metal is a calculated carnage machine of the first order.
While Impetuous Ritual is destined to be compared to Portal, with whom it shares two band members, it is a much different beast. It is slightly more traditional in orientation, swapping Portal’s surreal psychosis for bipolar belligerence. While Impetuous Ritual’s mood swings alternate between extremely slow and extremely fast with considerable volatility, those swings are far from erratic. This results in distinct riffs and a less-esoteric logic by which songs are structured. However, the nearly inscrutable density of Impetuous Ritual’s vision demands a significant investment of time by the listener to reveal the obsidian sheen of its crud-encrusted jewels.
The band’s ultra-slow sections are best, with ninth and final track “Dirge” practically outdoing Incantation at its own game. First, it hits a particular moment of such utter desolation that it consumes the humanity of all within earshot. Then, it spirals into a musical deconstruction of death/doom, picking it apart motif by painful motif, stretching it to the breaking point, and finally allowing it to stand in abstract nakedness bereft of other musical foundation. It is with this that the band concludes the album. In many respects, it is the event horizon of the album; that point where all motion appears to stop due to extreme gravity. The band achieves a similar height (or depth, as it were) on the massive fifth track, “Destitution,” which devastates with its abyssal and abysmal slow section. While many death metal bands have tried and failed to conjure supremely slow doom passages, Impetuous Ritual is among the precious few who have hit this mark. While this is only speculation, I attribute the band’s success to its blending of the common (but worthy, ever-so-worthy) influence of Incantation with a more obscure authority: fellow Australians Disembowelment.
However, Impetuous Ritual demonstrates remarkable command of the fast tempo as well, with “Convoluting Unto Despondent Anachronism” blending a cornucopia of squealing leads, dive bombs, and nightmarish mid-tempo overtures into the fray. The array of techniques that Impetuous Ritual utilizes enable the fast sections (often neglected within this particular subgenre of death metal) to take on a degree of individuation rarely heard.
Part of the reason why many of Impetuous Ritual’s distinguishing elements are initially difficult to discern is because the music is not only extremely dense but also because it is contained within a disconcertingly claustrophobic sonic canvas. The production is akin to being trapped in an aphotic subterranean cave, barely bigger than the human form, that is suffering from a collapsing roof. It is as dank as it is dangerous. The music gets especially murky during the fast sections when everything blurs into a violent aural smudge that oscillates in and out of view inverse to the sound profile of the tremolo-picked guitar riffs.
Importantly, and to reaffirm something touched upon earlier, Impetuous Ritual is far more structured in its approach than brothers-in-harm Portal. That said, the first encounter with this album might suggest otherwise; it requires numerous close listens and an attention to detail to bring the different layers into relief. From there, the process of reassembling those layers back into the de-stratified epitome of ugliness from whence they came reveals the album’s pitch-black brilliance.
As a general rule of thumb, death metal should never sit too well with the listener. It should be unsettling and dreadful. It should conjure up images of an unholy abyss. And you know what? If you stare too long at this abyss, it will not limit itself to staring back plaintively; no, this abyss has an appetite…feed the abyss at your own risk.