Ritual Chamber
Obscurations (To Feast On The Seraphim)


3.3
great

Review

by Tristan Jones STAFF
February 25th, 2016 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Down the hatch

Death metal multi-instrumentalist Dario Derna (AKA Numinas) has been a purveyor in the underground U.S. scene since his work with seminal acts Infester and Evoken in the early '90s. It’s fascinating to see someone whose creative touch is seen in several important metal groups - and in a variety of roles - converge into a single entity successfully. The Ritual Chamber project feels like an homage, but at the hands of someone who helped forge the respective scene (“nostalgic” just doesn’t seem suitable to describe it). Perhaps the grizzled, doom-infused DM is Numinas blowing the dust off of old scriptures, then scribbling some modern formulas in the empty space: unpredictable time signatures, tempo shifts, and a slew of ambiguous moods. Ritual Chamber’s debut full-length, Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim), is similar to 2013’s The Pits of Tentacled Screams in that it really isn’t mile-a-minute ferocity; it finds an equilibrium between unbridled rage and calm, disciplined brooding.

Whereas Infester’s To The Depths of Degradation was comparably perverse and demonic, Obscurations feels more relatable and humanlike, as it seems to realistically dwell on its revulsion rather than roll around in it without a second thought. Opener “Into the Collective Coffin” brims with consternation before tumbling off a cliff, whereas Infester would probably hurl someone into a chasm of spikes. Here, the cavernous sound is buried under rocks and roots, with every riff percolating through decaying bodies and aquifers. While analogies of over-the-top hellishness are often a given in DM descriptions, Obscurations feels less blatantly supernatural. It doesn’t really feel metaphysical, but rather the result of an ancient being buried for decades, building hatred contemplatively. One can imagine Derna encased in dirt and shackles for so long, he’s developed a sort of imprisoned wisdom (imagine Sisyphus after an eon of pushing a boulder uphill). Throughout its runtime, the album teeters between possession and bitter repentance, basking in fire yet longing for clemency, if only a little. As a whole, Obscurations is neither furious nor delighted in its wickedness; it often feels frustrated and indeterminate in where it falls on the moral spectrum. “Beings of Entropy”, for example, has a triumphant, racing instrumental passage at its midpoint that could be a watershed for a spiritual push, but soon falls through a sinkhole into clawing disgust.

Obscurations is interspersed with little moments like that. Dario Derna’s latest effort develops a weird subterranean aura, where the instrumentation feels suppressed and dusty, yet occasionally musters immense power. The guitar work on “Toward a Malignant Bliss” is massive, with addictive riffs (especially after the four-minute mark) alongside some of Numinas’ best drum work in years. Every cymbal crash hits with ship-sinking impact, and the vocal work is most convincing in that particular number. Usually the rock-gargling grumble lends to the confined, murky atmosphere, but sometimes it borders on hokey, like the final moments of “The Eternal Eye”. The influence of Profound Lore records is also evident; the overall sound is a departure from the EP, and feels a bit less mucky, to its detriment. The sense of torment was more convincing on Tentacled Screams, rather than indecisively sluggish; it takes Obscurations longer to establish its tenets. On the upside, the album is somewhat interesting to examine in this sense. Closer “As Dust And The Animal” ’s final moments are probably the most important, yet vague. The whole track is beastly and dense, with Derna’s vocals at their most desperate; but, the organ noises at the end shine like light through the rafters, only to be swallowed in fiendish spite. Once the dust settles, what’s most compelling is the uncertainty regarding whether this is really a story of victory or defeat.




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user ratings (32)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

stream/buy: https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/obscurations-to-feast-on-the-seraphim

thanks Profound Lore for the advance copy

feedback appreeshiated

Atari
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2016


23924 Comments


sheesh where's all the comments, we're looking at a johnny dm review here (nice write-up and stuff)

Digging: Pistol Annies - Interstate Gospel

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

if I wrote "guy from Infester, Funebrarum, Drawn and Quartered" at the top then I'm sure some ppl would saunter over, but w/e. and yeah felt like taking a stab at something a bit outside my normal purview, hope it went not shittily

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2016


3040 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not shitty in the slightest. Love the imagery in this review.



"it seems to realistically dwell on its revulsion rather than roll around in it"



Not really sure what this distinction is supposed to mean tho, they both seem like modifiers for the same thing. Otherwise, impeccable as always.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

dwell on = think about and maybe consider repurcussions, significance, etc, like any sane person would



roll around in it = just go for it. bathe in the filth

----

like, it's still pree durrty, but maybe more thoughtful/cautious? I could edit it if it still sounds a bit iffy to you. maybe I could add a bit to the end of that sentence to clarify things

hal1ax
February 25th 2016


12067 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ohh sweet I'm on this.

emester
February 25th 2016


8249 Comments


Shit I forgot about this. Hyped as hell but this little quip of yours has me a bit worried

"Whereas Infester’s To The Depths of Degradation was comparably perverse and demonic, Obscurations feels more relatable and humanlike, as it seems to realistically dwell on its revulsion rather than roll around in it without a second thought"

While I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy the album overall, the said lack of grotesque kinda is a shame.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

it has its moments but i think some listeners will be put off by how sparse the highlights are. they're there, but

slikphuk
February 25th 2016


412 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"the cavernous sound is buried under rocks and roots, with every riff percolating through decaying bodies and aquifers."



Really cool review! There are some killer riffs on this, and the drumming is pretty stellar too. Seems to be an impressive debut for Derna's solo project, im gonna need to go jam some infester after this.

Digging: Exothermix - Reaction

Hawks
February 25th 2016


64039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty sure I'm gonna dig the shit outta this.

Digging: Cell - Hanging Masses

R6Rider
February 25th 2016


5199 Comments


Me too.

Wanna get that vinyl as well.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
February 26th 2016


24487 Comments


It actively annoys me how good of writer you are. Great review. You can tell you don't review metal often, but I think it kind of works in your favor because you gave the album a more in-depth analysis than most would attempt. I'm actually not a huge fan of Infester, so I think I may enjoy this more than you.

Digging: Cradle of Filth - Midian

Archelirion
February 26th 2016


5610 Comments


It actively annoys me how good of writer you are. [2] ;]
At just a few seconds shorter than an hour this is gonna be a lot to take in, but after hearing the first track this should be good.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

thx guys, lemme know what you think of this

Hawks
February 26th 2016


64039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This fucking slays.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

i've had the promo for a while and jammed maybe 20 or so times and I'm still torn. i wanted to drop like a 4 on it but i guess it wore me down a bit by the time i was putting pen to paper. there's really only a handful of tracks i see getting more spin time for me from this point on

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2016


3040 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hawks 4.5 confirms this will prob be a 3.5 nice



Also Johnny I know you're not huge on metal but regardless what is your fav metal album?

Hawks
February 26th 2016


64039 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's kinda long, but it's so good. It's like part Immolation, part Infester, but still with it's own sound.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2016


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

@Jac - mmmm.. idk. i think the first metal album i bought was Electric Wizard's Come My Fanatics so there's some sentimentality there, even if i don't jam it much anymore.

ShadowRemains
February 26th 2016


24990 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

getting this now



as i mentioned before, the pit of tentacled screams is one of my fav EPs of recent years, dario gets what makes this kind of dm click



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