Ritual Killer - Upon The Threshold Of Hell - Bloated Goat Records 2005
Running Time: 26:28
Last year, when Sammy Duet told me about his Ritual Killer project, describing it as "...total oldschool black metal hatred.", I was immediately interested, hoping that the music lived up to his description. True to his word, the just under a half hour of Upon The Threshold Of Hell is a full frontal attack, Ritual Killer flying in the face of convention by delivering an album of individualistic misanthropy.
Hyperspeed blasts erupt from Zak Nolan's drums in "Demonic Possession", non-triggered, sloppy as all fuck, and all the better for it. The tortured scree and howl yanked from the guitar and bass must surely have earned Sammy Duet his own level of Hell, and when he's not pounding out Beherit-ized damage (as in the soul-obliterating "Invoking The Twilight Void"), he's charging the gates of Heaven, fingers aflame with his own special brand of swamp-laden black metal. Even in the now-exploding USBM scene, few can hold a candle to the pummeling fury of material like "Empire Of Shit" and the utter and ashen devastation conjured by the inhuman speed of "Hordes Of A Black Storm", Jordan Barlow's mayhemic vocals sounding as if recorded in a long-forgotten tomb, choking on the dust of centuries. Raw is the word when it comes to the production here, and not in that manufactured, studio-born way either. The ragged torment of "Dead River Intervention" sneaks riff-heavy snatches of Horna and Bestial Mockery in before dissolving amid rainstorm and wind into the creepiest ritual this side of The Wicker Man, while "Scourge Of A Satanic Infinity" is a head-on assault to the sense, swirling shrieks and divebombing guitars colliding with flailing rhythms to create an assured piece of black metal insanity. "Axis To Mutiny" finds Ritual Killer channeling the spirit of early Darkthrone with a groove fit to rip your head off, and dissonant, scathing leads scraped from the strings of madness. One of the album's high points is its final hymn to heathenry, "Witch Of The Sabbatic Fire", which ends the album with crushing riffs and bone-shattering stomp, Jordan hurling lyrical blood and bile with demonic force.
For anyone who wishes Hellhammer had never progressed to Celtic Frost, I give you Ritual Killer. Upon The Threshold Of Hell is one grisly, homicidal juggernaut of an album, and one well worth searching out. A shotgun blast to the face of the black metal scene.