Album Review: Ominous Scriptures — “Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition”

The early 2000’s was a special time for me.  It was the beginning of my transition into the world of extreme metal.  At the time, I was into classic metal, your Metallicas, your Black Sabbaths and AC/DCs and what have you, but it was around 2003 or 2004 that my mom accidentally got me MTV2’s Headbanger’s Ball, Vol. 2, which was my first taste of the extreme side of heavy metal.  Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I started seeking out even more extreme and brutal metal, and the rest is history.  Ominous ScripturesRituals of Mass Self-Ignition immediately takes me back to that point in my life.

Formed in 2013 in Minsk, Belarus, Ominous Scriptures have been on a tear since day one to reignite the flame of brutal, blasphemous and relatively straightforward death metal.  2020’s The Fall of the Celestial Throne saw the addition of new blood into the band, as well as christening their new relationship with Willowtip Records, which seems to be quite a nice fit for them.  I’ll be honest, when I saw Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition labeled as “brutal death metal.” I was expecting something more akin to slam, which is a genre that I respect but is really not up my alley.  The brutality here, though, is something much different and much more in my wheelhouse.  Rituals worships much more heavily at the altar of classics like Suffocation, Dying Fetus and even Annihilation of the Wicked era Nile (minus all the ancient Egypt stuff, but still).  Everything on this album evokes a simpler time in death metal, from the blistering one-riff-every-ten-seconds songwriting to the guttural vocals to the pinch harmonics to the guitar tones and even the hyper-specific bass drum trigger and snare sound that, for me, is so nostalgic and quintessential to the success of the album.  Trust me, you know the snare sound I’m talking about.  Maybe there’s a little bit of hero worship going on, but in a world where death metal is getting more and more stretched and strained in a lot of different directions, to varying degrees of success, it’s always good to have something to fall back on that just lets you get back to basics, and Rituals is exactly that album.

I think there must be something in the water in Belarus, because they do produce a very specific sound of death metal.  It’s so much more evil than a good handful of their contemporaries, and I think that’s what I appreciate about Rituals the most.  The menace and filth is so thick on this I can practically see the music video that jumps back and forth between a gaggle of sweaty dudes playing in a disgusting abandoned basement and, like, pieces of rotting meat or something.  Again, you know what I mean, you can see it too.  For example, take the opening track and lead single “Demonic Totem Am I.”  Blazing in with the classic combo of frantic blast beats and angular tremolo picking before immediately shifting tempos into a crushing, mosh-pit ready chugfest.  And, of course, there’s the obligatory fret-burning solo that never lets up speed from the moment it starts to the moment it ends.  It’s honestly the solos that evoke the most Nile for me.  The solo on “Serpentine Wisdom” pretty perfectly flatters Karl Sanders’ ultra-melodic, soaring phrasing and wide, seemingly impossible string bends in a way that had me double check to make sure I was listening to the right album.  

Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition is a joy to listen to for fans of the classics of extreme metal.  It is not an album that is big on subtlety, but hey, if you know then you know what you’re signing up for.  It’s comfort food for the soul, a meat loaf and mashed potatoes for your ears, except the ground beef hasn’t been cooked even a little bit.  I think this metaphor possibly got away from me so I’m just gonna go now.

– Ian

Rituals of Mass Self-Ignition will be available January 27 on Willowtip Records.  For more information on Ominous Scriptures, visit their Facebook page.

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