Derna bubbles to surface again as his Ritual Chamber conjures furious noise on ‘Obscurations’

Ritual ChamberPunishment and misery remain crucial tenets of death metal. Sure, inspiration points and directions have diverted the style of metal further away from these points every year, and there really isn’t anything wrong with that. But the uglier and more miserable the better when it comes to death, a style of music that never should make you feel good inside.

Dario Derna has forgotten more than most people know about death metal, having been a major part of this style of music for a quarter of a century. From his work with Drawn and Quartered, Evoken (who, granted, fall more into the doom spectrum), Vetus Obscurum, and his other solo project Krohm, Derna (also known as Numinas) has done his share to spread the darkness in underground death metal and to make sure it keeps breathing pestilence. Now he’s back with a new project Ritual Chamber that is one of his most twisted, devastating projects yet and pushes him back to the forefront of those who are making the darkest sounds known to mankind. On this band’s debut “Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim),” Derna digs deep into his darkest corners and creates nine terrifying, fire-breathing songs that will help you find the murkiest, most disturbed regions of your soul and pour mounds of salt into any existing wounds.

Ritual Chamber Cover“Into the Collective Coffin” starts the album immersed in strange noises, torturous grunts, and eventually smudgy doom that opens the door and lets in the horrors. The album trucks like a funeral march with bells chiming, growls unloaded, and an abrasive grimness that spreads over the tail end of the song and has the track swirling out. “The Eternal Eye” also spills doom riffs, and the pace is charred heavily, with the chaos boiling and setting off dizzying waves. The track comes to a premature halt before the bottom drops out and the pace starts defacing again. The growls are menacing, and it feels like the song is melting in the face of the sun. “Beings of Entropy” grinds skin, with gurgly growls surfacing and the hellish riffs eclipsing your oxygen supply. Later, guitars burst with life and start to sear, with the vocals causing bruising, the guitars chewing, and the drums being bashed massively. “The Aphotic Dead” simmers in blood before it starts clobbering and the pace smothers. Parts of this reminds of Portal as it slithers underneath the surface, rolling in the soot as the melodies leave you disoriented and in the throes of madness. “A Parasitic Universe” has a morbid, mournful start like being ensconced in a cold dream. Weirdness prevails before the song starts pulverizing, with lurching growls scraping, the pot boiling, and, later, all of the elements exploding. The fury is spewed like lava, with unforgiving smashing bringing the song to a pummeling end.

“Toward Malignant Bliss” stymies from its start, creating a cloud of mystery and terror that blasts into the churning riffs. The leads catch fire, while the growls sound throaty and mean, the assault punishes mightily, and each end of the song explodes with force. “The Grasp of the Host” unleashes blazing guitars right from the start, with riffs raining down and a total bludgeoning heading toward you and your safety. The drums rattle hard, while the vocals crawl through the dirt, and the final moments come crashing down like a hundred tons of bricks. “Void Indoctrination” has riffs falling and saturating the ground, with melodies sweltering. There is a dizzying death pace that gets uglier and more intense as it goes on, and the soloing cuts out of there and blinds the vision. A strange prog cloud lowers itself over the scene, and from there, the track slowly trickles away. Closer “As Dust and the Animal” is the longest song at 10:03, and it begins to thaw and drip over the first minutes. From there it gets nasty, with the pace kicking up and laying waste, but then things disappear into an ambient fog and come out the other side in a death-ridden march. The soloing ramps up, with the monstrous growls churning again, and the song drilling aggressively. Organs spill in to add a chilling atmosphere, and the track then dissolves into the same guttural torture that opened the record, leaving you in a foul pit of disgust.

Derna sounds as vicious and malicious as he ever has on Ritual Chamber, and hopefully this collection is a breath of new life for him as he tackles this new venture. This record is absolutely suffocating and furious, a dose of true death that hopefully will jerk heads in his direction and batter listeners’ ears. Every ounce of this album is oppressive and scathing, proving that even after 25 years at it, Derna’s fire is nowhere near being extinguished.

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