Sunday 19 August 2018

Review: Ritual Aesthetic – 'Wound Garden'

'Wound Garden'

Denver's Ritual Aesthetic return with their sophomoric offering 'Wound Garden'. Aiming to build on the strong first step of their 2014 debut 'Decollect', Ritual Aesthetic hit hard and heavy right away with a demonic blend of industrial and metal.

Started by Sean Ragan, formerly the drummer of Dawn Of Ashes and Belhor, the album has a strong rhythmic grounding through which the guitars and synths saw through. Combined with his digitally-augmented growled vocals it's evident that 'Wound Garden' is a darker and heavier affair than it's predecessor, and the end result is utterly compelling.

Opening with the ominous industrial overtones of 'Stasis', followed closely by the scathing synth-driven attack of 'Life Amnesia' the band set up the atmosphere of the album quickly, before dropping in the heavy guitars on the brilliant lead single 'The Analog Flesh'. The likes of 'Divided', 'Dread', and 'Malefaktor' vary things up a little bit between them, but they maintain that core formula of the strong rhythms, sharp synth melodies and blistering guitars.

Reflecting the construction of the first album the final three tracks are remixes from other artists. While these do play up different elements within the RA sound. They do stunt the pace of the album. The radical overhaul of 'Mechanism Of Desire' by ESA unfortunately stops the momentum of the album dead. While the Seraphim System remix of 'Chemical Weapons' attempts to kick-start things again, before Xentrifuge rounds things out with 'Amnesiac'. It's a shame as the remixes themselves are great, but it feels as though the album needed a few more original tracks.

The production is strong ans shows development from the first album. The heavier sounds and darker atmospheres on the album create a sense of claustrophobia and desperation, but the methodical construction of each track means that this doesn't become a din of noise. Instead the rhythmic foundations allow the gritty guitars and synth melodies to cut through with ease.

This is a strong follow-up that displays a hell of a lot of promise. It's unfairly short, but it is too the point. The dark and unfriendly industrial metal formula feels refined and focussed, and most importantly it's catchy. These are heavy tracks that have dance potential and stick in your mind. The band have definitely found their stride and hopefully they will stride back soon with album number three.

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