Numinas (Dario Derna) has played black metal as the one-man band Krohm since 1995. You may be familiar with his work as the keyboardist in the doom/death metal band Evoken from 1995-2002. He also played drums in Drawn and Quartered from 2002-2012. He returns this year with the debut full-length release Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim) from Ritual Chamber, another one-man project that he started in 2013. Ritual Chamber released a roiling demo in 2014 titled The Pits of Tentacled Screams. Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim) continues where that demo left off, pounding you with death metal tinged with doom and black metal tremolo picking.
Ritual Chamber channels pure evil with music. The first 10 seconds of the sludgy, creepy intro of Obscurations sets the tone for the entire album. “Into The Collective Coffin” starts with a haunting sample and then rolls into a marching drum beat and gurgling vocals. The rolling blast beats on “The Aphotic Dread” characterize the Ritual Chamber sound. Double bass crushes your ears and down-tuned, fastly picked guitar riffs layer on top of snaking bass runs. It’s not all pummeling riffs and blast beats, though. The fifth track, “A Parasitic Universe” is a dissonant journey, taking you through cold space without a spacesuit for two and a half minutes before plowing you head first into the sun. The keyboard work is similarly chilling. The third track, the spacey synth sounds on “Beings of Entropy” give way to sickening guitars and vocals.
The gravelly bass tone is sickening. It jumps out in several places. The end of “The Grasp of The Host” and the beginning of the next track “Void Indoctrination” showcase not only the smashing guitars, but the excellent bass work on this record. Numinas handles all aspects of this band with talent and skill that is not often seen in such projects.
This kind of heavy black death metal can get repetitive if it’s not done well. Thankfully, Numinas’ songwriting is solid throughout the record. Ritual Chamber does it well. If there’s a weakness on Obscurations, though, it’s that this style of death metal can get tiring after 20 minutes. Numinas does a good job of keeping you interested, but there are moments towards the end of the album that the riffs start to blend together.
The album closer “As Dust And The Animal” is a 10 minute, 30 second track that encapsulates everything Ritual Chamber is trying to do. Blast beats, rolling double bass, hypnotic slow moments all come together to send a chill down your spine. Obscurations ends with another disgusting sample, looping the album back on itself like a cursed ouroboros.
Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim) is unwieldy and crepuscular. Comparisons to Incantation are obvious as are parallels to Ævangelist’s Writhes in the Murk. If you’re a fan of either of those bands, Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim) is an album you’ll want to check out. Ritual Chamber makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, ultimately leaving you feeling like you’ve touched the hem of Death’s robe.
– Jeremiah Nelson