Pittsburgh’s Ritual Mass unload savage death metal assault with EP ‘Abhorred in the Eyes of God’

If you’re one of those people who turns up their noses when local artists get opening slots before your favorite bands’ live shows, definitely try to improve that attitude. One of the pleasures I’ve gotten over the years of attending shows here in Pittsburgh is getting a taste of what the bands here have in their arsenal, and I’ve become huge fans of many, so much so that I look forward to them as much as the headliners.

I say that because Pittsburgh’s Ritual Mass got a crack at being one of the first bands to hit the stage during the recent Steel & Bone Vol. 1 fest, and they fucking slayed. Anyone who ever saw them before would not be surprised by this, but it was great to see people there to wreck their bodies and hearing to Immortal Bird, Tomb Mold, and Horrendous were just as enthused by this band’s set that was short but totally satisfying. Now, just a couple weeks later, they’re back with their second release “Abhorred in the Eyes of God,” a four-track, 12-minute effort that’s nicely sized to give you an example of what they do and why they’re one of Pittsburgh’s, and metal’s, more promising death squads.

“Grievous Sin” tears the record open and begins to crush bodies right away as primal growls are unleashed, and the tempo adds ample pressure to listeners’ skulls. Severe pounding and nasty growls roll through, and the playing is meaty, massive, and deadly. “Seated at the Right Hand of the Lord” is a monster that blows flames in faces and smears soot across the world. The playing is crunchy and violently catchy as the growls mash, and then slow-driving hell begins to spread. The final minute of the song it utterly gut wrenching, and then it bleeds into “Servant” and its all-consuming riffs. The track spirals dangerously as the playing breaks down and spits nails, proverbially shoving its hands over mouths in an effort to cut off breath. “Devoured” closes the assault with killer guitars coming to life, the growls scraping off flesh, and an all-out animalistic display flexing its muscle. It feels like the song is trying to peel back scabs and going to chew into bone as mangling growls deliver the final blows, and the track stings and fades.

Ritual Mass have been making their way through the Pittsburgh underground, and “Abhorred in the Eyes of God” is a monstrous display that demonstrates to the rest of the world what we locals already know about them. They’re a sharp, devastating group that proves its meddle live and pour that into these four songs. This is only the dawn of Ritual Mass’ campaign, and they’re likely not finished until they amass a tidal wave of willingly collected broken bodies.

For more on the band or to buy the album, go here: http://ritualmass.bandcamp.com/

Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze put hypnotic black haze over chaos on ‘Offerings of Flesh and Gold’

Twitter is an absolute fucking mess, filled with shitty people and dangerous ideas, and it really isn’t worth anyone’s time really. That said, had it not been for a couple of friends who posted some really helpful pointers toward some new bands worth checking out, I wouldn’t be presenting the piece I am today, which happens to be about a record that has me as fired up for a debut as I can remember.

If you haven’t yet woken up to Colorado/Washington black metal blazers Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze, make that correction right now. There’s a link to the record below. Go listen to it immediately. You can do that and read this piece at the same time. The band’s devastating and mind-bending debut record “Offerings of Flesh and Gold” is one of the most amazing first records I’ve heard in a long, long time. Maybe the last time I was this excited was with FALSE’s first EP, and we all know how that story turned out. This album is three tracks spread out over 46 minutes that seem to go flying by, and the experience you will have will be unlike anything else you take on this year. I know the year is only half over. That’s how confident I am that once more people hear this record, it’ll be a watershed moment. The band—vocalist/synth player Achaierai, guitarist/bassist Athshean, drummer Yaeth—without question embrace anti-fascist and anti-capitalist thinking and urge listeners to look within themselves for power when battling against such insurmountable odds. It’s a noble stand, and even though that’ll grate at some people, good. They probably deserve a good bout of irritation.

“O! Smile of Blood” starts the record with noise pounding, the spirit spreading quietly and dangerously, and an ambient haze washing itself over everything, as throaty buzzes emerge and terrify. About 4:30 into the 13:10 mauler, the first words are uttered as Achaierai warbles, “From the cacophonous roar, beauty springs, a blood-streaked rose rising from a pile of shit.” The track then catches fire as the growls blaze, the guitars go into tornadic convulsions, and maniacal lurching keeps the assault bloody and real. The earth is rocked violently as a hypnotic stretch arrives to further jostle the senses, and from out of that, the drums turn everything to powder, the vocals massacre, as Achaierai wails, “We will bear our young and birth them in your lungs, in your hearts, in your minds.” The riffs land like a torpedo, the fire begins to spread, and the track finally cools out in the clouds.

“What Awaits Us (A Void Is But an Open Mouth)” starts with clean guitars trickling, light drums tapping, and then a sudden opening into crazed shrieks and guitars beginning to stampede. The track encircles you and easily could bring on panic when serenity sets in for a moment, letting the wounds heal before the pace jolts again. The howls hover like a hungry vulture, the feeling is menace and torture, and the track ends in a smoking pile. “Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze” ends the record and is a mammoth at 22:13, of which each second is used wisely. Sounds pulsate, clean guitars bleed, and the first lines are spoken with Achaierai pointing, “We cover our heads in reverence, and so our station is known, what we do today will reverberate throughout eternity.” The track then explodes as melodies become monsters, the vocals slaughter, and the pace goes back and forth from reckless abandon to a modicum of control. There are points when the band makes the room spin, leaving you clutching for the walls, before the next wave of assaults arrives. The playing pulsates as a single guitar lashes out, droning into the ground before it’s joined by other forces, and suddenly you’re in the heart of a typhoon. Warbly speaking arrives, the band chants as if trying to haunt your soul, and that repeats until mercy is finally delivered.

I cannot hail enough the greatness of “Offerings of Flesh and Gold” as well as the might of Bull of Apis Bull of Bronze. This band has me excited again for the possibilities of what black metal can truly be, as well as their words and chaos that lash back at the corrupt power system that tries to stomp on every one of our throats, even if some of us seemingly ask for it with great pleasure. This is a huge first statement from a band that very well could be the future of black metal. They’re that good.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/BullOfApisCO/

To buy the album, go here: https://bullofapisbullofbronze.bandcamp.com/album/offerings-of-flesh-and-gold

Or here (CD): https://amomentofclarityrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/offerings-of-flesh-and-gold

Or here (cassette): https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/offerings-of-flesh-and-gold

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/amomentofclaritymusic

And here: https://www.facebook.com/TridroidRecords/