There’s an attraction that the darkness holds, something seductive and exciting that we know we probably should not visit, but it’s sometimes just so hard to look away. That’s something that has powered heavy metal from its earliest stages and remains a vital part of the style’s DNA today, because its invitation is often too tempting from which to turn away.
Chad Davis accepted his invitation a long time ago, and he’s committed so much to the heavy metal genre over the past two decades, that he really deserves to be mentioned by more people when discussing the genre’s true masters. Hour of 13 is one of his main projects, the one where I first learned of him, and that force is back with powerful new album “Black Magick Rites.” This album is the fourth Hour of 13 album and the first in nine years, and if you’re already tied into this band’s totally dark DNA, you’ll be right at home with these seven songs. The album is chock full of classic-style heavy metal thunder and shadow, feeling like music that could have originated decades back and been right at home, yet we’re getting it fresh in modern times. It’s a really strong, infectious album that is full of power.
“His Majesty of the Wood” kicks off with strong riffs and echoes soaring as the track is dark and alluring. Davis’ vocals are as melodic and dangerous as ever as he punches along, sweltering with sorrowful melodies, a rush of emotions, and everything burning out into sight. “Return From the Grave” unloads with gloomy leads and the vocals crawling in the soot as Davis warns, “Tonight I rise.” The guitars pick up along with him, delivering a strong retro vibe that gets into your system, mesmerizing and crunching, and more ominous lines such as, “Within your sin, I live again,” dig in its claws as the track bleeds out. “House of Death” has a driving pace, with the doom clouds hanging overhead, the vocals sweltering, and a chorus that sends chills down your spine. The riffs are strange and dizzying as the leads cut through flesh, the vocals haunt, and your mind shrouded, with Davis inviting, “Come into this house of death,” as the track burns off.
The title track arrives with swaggering riffs and vocals echoing, feeling spooky and weird. Crunchy leads and a great chorus unite as the skies further darken, guitars dice muscle, and the cut bows out to the night. “Within the Pentagram” chars wills, chants lift for Satan, and the riffs pile up, with Davis calling, “Say the name by candlelight,” and later poking, “I am death incarnate.” The playing wells up like lava, the guitars keep eating away at your nerves, and the voices wash in echo, falling out into time. “Harvest Night” has guitars swirling and a chorus that feels like it’s coming for you without mercy, basking in ritual and death. A truly old metallic feel permeates the cell structure, the guitars heat up, making you shield your face, and a doomy pall blots out the sun, disappearing into the fog. “The Mystical Hall of Dreams” is the closer, bringing deeper vocals and sinister intent, with Davis wondering, “What awaits in the night?” almost like he knows but is teasing. Hazy guitars hang as your mind is twisted, the soloing opens and binds, and the track topples into the dark side, burning into the sky.
Davis’ mission with Hour of 13 remains firm and strong, basking in the evil and washing its hands in blood on “Black Magick Rites.” His retro style predates many of the tons of other bands trying the same thing, and he remains an utter master at it, because he has eaten from the roots for so long. This is a record that makes your bones shake, the body temperature lower, and you reaching for any modicum of safety you can find.
For more on the band, go here: https://hourof13official.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album, go here: https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/pre-orders.asp
For more on the label, go here: https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/