Sunday, December 21, 2014
Catching Up WIth 2014-Ritual Howls:"Turkish Leather"
The vocals fall somewhere between Cult of Youth's Death in June inspired baritone and 80's dark wave. They have a very hypnotic quality that makes them darker than Cult of Youth. They cover a wide range of sounds from haunting western reverb coating the guitar to a slower pace dark wave dance number. There is no shortage of the elegance I often complain about bands like this forsaking, in fact Ritual Howls almost over indulges in it. The hooky synth riffs slither up to save the songs when they get to absorbed in the melodrama.
The tension of "My Friends" doesn't forsake the depths of the darkness they have already lured you into. it's one of those rare songs that I can tell I like before the vocals even come in. The are an almost monotone baritone , not unlike Joy Division, but this is not a total Ian Curtis rip off, like many of the bands we have heard who still try to carry the torch for the creepy 80's. The western feel returns from the grave on "Final Service". Here the guitar finds a haunting surf rock sound. Most of the songs drone on a theme and then add layers, the beat of their drum machine remains locked in the same pattern once they press play. The singer goes down into more ghoulish bass, closer to Micheal Gira than Sisters of Mercy.
One of the albums most oppressively heavy songs is the down trodden "No Witnesses" that is thick with gloom. It is very similar to the Cure's "Pornography" era work. The vocals take their time , waiting half way through the song to chime in. They remind me a little of Iggy's "Night Clubbing". The title track takes a plunge into a more surreal landscape. The narcotic throb is not unlike that of the Velvet Underground's more sonically mystifying moments. The vocals retain the deep resonates of mid-period Swans. I'm going to go ahead and include the bonus track for the purpose of the review since that's how I am digesting this album and you should to.
"I'd Rather Not" sticks with the Gira like vocal moan. They bring in the dance beat and the western guitar, so every element that has worked so well for them up to this point in back in play.Sure it sticks to the same tempo and drone on what it does pull together. The vocals have a like more punch and purpose to them here. The question that remains to be answered is how long will this album stick with me? I was impressed upon my initial listen and will try to hunt this one down to find out, so I'll give it a 9, as it sounds great, but once you get a feel for them there are few surprises.