Ritual Dictates
Give In To Despair

Ritual Dictates is a new band featuring Justin Hagberg of 3 Inches of Blood and Ash Pearson of Revocation. According to press, they produce “a savage onslaught of uncompromising heaviness.” Their debut album, Give In To Despair also has a track called “Given To Despair.” You read that correctly. So, uncompromising heaviness and a little word play? You son of a bitch, I’m in!

One of my favorite pastimes is to pick an album I know little to nothing about and just give it a go. It wouldn’t be fair to say I knew nothing of this album before listening. I knew Justin was involved and I thoroughly enjoyed 3 Inches of Blood, so there was that factor, but as far as the music itself, I had no clue. Sometimes it’s better that way.

I believe this is one of those times. The first track, “It’s About Goddamn Time (The Hours of Folly Pt.1) blasts out of the speakers and is gone. Just like any good relationship, it’s in and out in under 2 minutes… or so I’ve been told.

There’s far more to this album than meets the eye, however. After the first track, grind is my reference point. Track 2, “Dominance and Will,” is a little longer. It also includes some clean vocals. This prepared me for track 3.

Track 3 is the title track. Kind of…? Remember in the intro where I mentioned the name of the album, as well as the track with a slightly different title? That’s track 3, “Given To Despair.” This is not grindcore, but has elements of grind, death metal, and traditional heavy metal. Clean vocals start before we’re 2 minutes in the track. They fit the stellar guitar work yet soar over it. About a minute later, the track slows and we have more cleans, as well as a hypnotic lead to accompany them in the background. With about 40 seconds left in the track, it’s back to the heaviness.

The two standout tracks come in at tracks 6 and 7. “Poisonous Proclamation,” the former, is heavy from the start. Blast beats followed by some double bass and might I say, excellent drumming overall dominate this track until about a minute in, where we hear the bass front and center. This leads to the highlight of the album, which are the clean vocals with some call and response, then an inspiring lead. After the lead, those vocals come back and we have what one may call a “chorus.”

Track 7, “Aperiam in Porta,” starts out with some bass, then jumps into a grooving riff. The bass has its place on this track and the album overall. A little less than 4 minutes in, we’re treated to a “Hey” section, followed by some excellent clean vocals, then a lead to take us out. While this is the clear standout on the album, it is also a 6-minute song on an album which has 11 songs and only totals 33 minutes.

I was honestly about to mention another standout track, but figured it was time to wrap it up. By the length of this, you can likely tell I am quite fond of this record. It’s short, to the point, yet full of ideas, and never feels too abrupt or phoned in. It has a lot going for it, including great production and performances. As I was writing this review, I kept wanting to make mention of different parts of the album. If it doesn’t take you on the first listen, that’s fine. Just press play again and I bet you’ll start to feel the way I do.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
April 21st, 2020

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