"Ritualia Stramonium"

By Lord Randall

When a band covers another on album, you know they're fans of the band being reinterpreted. When a band covers the same band twice on the same album, you know their appreciation goes beyond simple fandom into lands of at best tribute, at worst mimicry. My first experience with ABHOR was 2004's "Vocam Spiritum Morti", purchased unheard on the strength of such an occurrence, and containing not one, but two (count 'em) GOBLIN covers. Thankfully the highest justice was done to the Italian soundtrack masters, and I was sold, the original material of ABHOR being no slouch either.

Now, 11 years later, we find "Ritualia Stramonium", the trio's sixth full-length effort, and one that will be hard pressed to surpass their previous, which ranked highly on my 2011 Top Ten list.

'Between The Flames And The Moon' begins the order of service, the trademark church organ lending its ever-liturgical air to the rancid disgust heaped upon the listener by the low-end-heavy blackness spewing from the dark priests. The bass has historically been severely underserved in the mixing of black metal, so to hear it becoming a focal point maketh this disciple of the four-string smile. Once you get past the tongue twisting title of 'De Exorcismis Et Supplicationibus Quibusdam', you will find within a cackling, haranguing study in controlled chaos, leaving you feeling as if you'd fallen asleep in your cozy bed only to wake in the bowels of a madhouse. Things don't get better for you as 'I...The Witch' brings mid-paced stride to the fore, the vocalist intoning curses like some palsied Black Pope on the nods, while 'Circle Of Stones' is a sheer heart attack of intensity and neck-breaking speed, that infernal organ whipping frenzied acolytes into a...well...frenzy.

Ending the proceedings with what can only be a heartfelt tribute to the subject of "Ritualia Stramonium"'s dedication, the deceased Errans Infernorum, ABHOR have again succeeded in both pleasing this longtime fan and dropping aural napalm on the unaware. That this band isn't more appreciated is a crime. Full stop.