Ceremonial: Ars Magicka

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Ceremonial: Ars Magicka
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Ceremonial: Ars Magicka
Black Metal, Thrash Metal
Blood Harvest Records
March 31st, 2014
Release length: 13:55
In 2010, the four-piece Chilean Black and Thrash Metal group Ceremonial was forged. Their first demo came out in 2011, and another titled Ars Antiqua was unleashed about a year later. While the band still remains unsigned at this time, they shall spawn a four song seven-inch EP for Blood Harvest Records titled Ars Magicka, which carries a raw tone that captures the spirit of bands like Venom that perform Thrash Metal in a first wave Black Metal manner. But is it a success, or just make for a generic effort?

“The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary” features tight, faster guitar work that is complimented by solid drumming and a nice amount of echo on the vocals that makes the rasps a little richer, and the shriek about three minutes in kind of chilling. Meanwhile “A.·.R.·.C.·.” has some standard early Scandinavian foundations in some spots, working with the charging Thrash Metal drumming in the main verses that isn’t too complex, but is more aggressive than it probably should be. “havohaj” is more a modern Black Metal cut full of unnerving riffs and blistering drums that often explode into well executed blast beats. The shifts in and out sound great with the many different changes as well, such as the shift to Crossover Thrash during the somewhat brief chorus.

Sadly, it’s “Tributlations” that seems to just go for broke. The variations on display during “havohej” feel fluid from start to finish, though many eruptions jerk from one opposite to the next. An example would be the fast guitar work and blasting drums that suddenly cut off without warning and head right into mid-tempo Immortal-style Black Metal. It becomes a jumbled mess that isn’t necessarily bad, but could have been handled a lot better overall.

Ceremonial seems to step between worlds in a sense. The music itself is rather crisp with echoed vocals, giving the sense of an early analog album from a bigger studio in the eighties than for the sake of trying to sound “kvlt” or raw because it’s the in thing to do now. It makes the somewhat crisp performances a little on the sleeker side of darkness. Ars Magicka is a well executed entry into the rising Black Metal/Thrash Metal revival going on, and while it doesn’t bring anything unique with it, all but “Tribulations” pack a great deal of energy and tight material that will have you hooked.

01. The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary – 3:41
02. A.·.R.·.C.·. – 2:48
03. havohej – 4:35
04. Tribulations – 2:53
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Ceremonial
Ceremonial

Digital review copy of this release provided by Blood Harvest Records.