When it comes to black and death metal, France continues to have some of the better bands out there. One that’s gone a bit under the radar for some people is Ritualization, a death metal act that’s been around since 2006 and released some demos, a split, and an EP to date. They came to my attention back in 2011 with the ‘The Vision of Fading Mankind’ split with Temple of Baal, and following the 2013 EP ‘Beyond the Shrine of Shattered Bones’ Ritualization has finally unleashed their debut full length. Titled ‘Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss’, the album came out on Iron Bonehead Productions on February 3rd and you can stream the entire release below as well as check out an interview with the band’s vocalist Warchangel.
Ten years after a group’s formation is a long time to wait for a debut full length, but you can tell that Ritualization has spent a considerable amount of time fine-tuning their craft and it shows throughout ‘Sacraments to the Sons of Abyss’. If you’ve heard their previous material, what you’ll notice right from the start is that the group has stayed true to their established sound but their writing has some additional complexity and the production values have taken a significant leap forward. There is still plenty of that blistering intensity and dense layers of riffing that sounds like its dragging you to the depths of Hell alongside it, but the recording boasts enough clarity that it’s easy to make out individual leads and easily distinguish the songs from one another. Ritualization’s take on old-school death metal injects some of black metal’s ominous, hellish atmosphere, particularly when it comes to the overall tone, but the song structures stay strictly in the realm of death metal and hit as hard as they possibly can. Warchangel’s vocals come through as distorted, guttural growls that are supported by some higher shrieks and they consistently channel that feeling of darkness and dread that’s so damn appealing. ‘Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss’ switches things up often enough to keep it from feeling as though Ritualization is repeating themselves, and this is a perfect slice of dark and obscure death metal to get the year started.
Check out the full stream and interview below, and grab the album now from Iron Bonehead Productions.
Transcending Obscurity (Chris Dahlberg): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Your debut full length ‘Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss’ has been a long time coming, when did writing for the album begin?
Ritualization (Warchangel): Most of the songs were written in a time span of two to four-five years. We followed the usual process for a band, which means releasing a demo tape, a split MP, a 7-inch, and then the album. We took one step at a time but what is obvious is that our next release will arise more quickly. We learned a lot from the recording + release process and know which mistakes we will have to scrape/erase next time…
TO: Two of the songs on the album are from 2013’s ‘Beyond the Shrine of Shattered Bones’ EP. How do the versions from the album compare to the EP recordings?
Ritualization: The lineup has changed since 2013 so the way of playing these songs became different too; there are a few lead parts that were not included in these tracks at their early stage. Moreover, playing these songs in a live setting during live rituals probably modified slight details.
TO: One of the songs that I’ve found myself returning to the most on the album is Revealed in Terror, as the main guitar leads are absolutely killer. Can you tell us more about this song in particular and where it fits in with regards to the rest of the album material?
Ritualization: Thanks for the great words about this song. Revealed in Terror is the oldest song on the album actually but we decided to include it since we did not forget our past and we still enjoy playing this old material in live rituals. We still have some old tracks that we could rebuild in a slightly different way, we will see if we do that or if we’d rather focus on new exclusive material…
TO: Where did you record this time around, and how did these recording sessions compare to what you’ve done for your past releases?
Ritualization: Unlike the previous recording sessions, the recording of the album took place in a true studio, i.e the Hybreed studio in Paris area with sound engineer Andrew Guillotin. He worked with some of our best allies like French black/death metal outfit TEMPLE OF BAAL. We were lucky to work with him since he is patient and cares about every detail, he never gets upset…no problem for him to ask you to play a part 7 or 8 times if he is not satisfied with the outcome or he thinks that you can deliver it in a better way…and he sets a very quiet, relaxed but demanding work atmosphere which definitely proved to be the right fitting framework for us…All in all, that was a more professional experience in many aspects and this is what we yearned for an album recording…
TO: I was impressed by the intro/outro tracks, as they feel like they’re drowning you in darkness and dread. Intro/outro tracks aren’t something that bands do quite as often anymore, what made you interested in utilizing them?
Ritualization: The purpose behind the idea of using intro/interludes/outro was to underline this very simple fact: there’s a start, there’s an end and there is something in between. The album can be perceived as a corpus of songs but the intro opens the gate to it. Then you’ve got the interludes which are more like breathing between some of the songs. As a matter of fact, the opening of the track Heretics is brooding like a shadow spreading over…then everything erupts! And when it’s over and the smoke has cleared, nothing remains but “ashes pouring from the chalice…”
TO: The artwork for ‘Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss’ was done by Chris Moyen and is absolutely killer, as I feel it perfectly suits your material. Can you tell us more about the ideas you/ Chris Moyen had for the artwork and how it ties into the album as a whole?
Ritualization: What strikes me with Chris Moyen’s art and way of working is that he can perfectly put into images the words and ideas that you feed him with…I sent him an email with a very accurate description of the cover and what I wanted it to look like, he began to work upon it…This cover gathers some lyrical parts of the songs of the album, if you read the lyrics and the titles of the tracks, you may figure out…and Chris delivered his vision of that and I have to say that I was speechless when he sent me the first samples of his drawings…Saying that we are proud of his work is an understatement, believe me…
TO: You’ve worked with several noteworthy labels over the years, including Agonia and Blood Harvest. This is your first release with Iron Bonehead, what made them the right label for the new album?
Ritualization: I can sum it up with a few words: trust, hard work, support…Patrick and Iron Bonehead Productions have always stepped up to the plate when it comes to RITUALIZATION. He always supported the band, he had us play at one of his fests (“Ritual for the dead” in Berlin in 2011 with NECROHOLOCAUST, VOIDS OF VOMIT, SADOMATOR, DEGIAL and many more) and always showed unadulterated dedication and utter support…in addition to that, his releases speak for himself…IBP is the perfect label for us !
TO: ‘The Vision of Fading Mankind’ split you did with Temple of Baal in 2011 was my first exposure to your material, and one of the highlights from French metal for that year. How did the ideas for that split come together, and will we see more split releases with other from you in the future?
Ritualization: Amduscias and Arkdaemon (TEMPLE OF BAAL) and I have known each other since the late nineties, I was lucky enough to attend TEMPLE OF BAAL’s first live ritual in Paris in ’99…Amduscias and I talked about this split release…this release gathers two different bands yet displaying two close visions of black and/or death metal, the way it must be…Sharing a release with some close allies might come true again, we will see what rises from the shadows…
TO: France continues to have a considerable amount of black and death metal talent. What are your thoughts on how black and death metal in France has changed over the decade you’ve been a band?
Ritualization: I agree with you and in my humble opinion, France has always had great bands since the eighties, be it hard rock/heavy metal, thrash, death and black metal…SORTILEGE, AGRESSOR, BLASPHEME, MUTILATED, ADX, MERCYLESS,…the list goes on forever…today you’ve got MERRIMACK, VORKREIST, VENEFIXION, AFFLICTION GATE, AOSOTH among others…you will always find French vanguards of black/death metal but those are not copycats of the more famous bands, they’ve got their own audial DNA…
TO: You played several festivals and one-off gigs last year. With the album now out, are there plans for an extended European tour or festival appearances in 2017?
Ritualization: The purpose with the release of the album is to play as much as we can, in France and abroad…we are in touch with some people, we hope to raise the flag of death metal anywhere!
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about ‘Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss’ or Ritualization?
Ritualization: ‘Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss” is our vision of death metal. Period. If people out there are interested in getting us playing in their area, just drop a line to warchangel(at)wanadoo(dot)fr.
Thanks for the intie and your support of RITUALIZATION.
“…Bringers of abominations, by Cain begotten…”
Warchangel, on behalf of RITUALIZATION in February 2017