Anti Ritual, who hail from Copenhagen, are a politically motivated, lyrically intelligent, sonically challenging beast that take elements from black metal, hardcore and sludge to create a coruscating whirlwind of noise that will leave you restless and exhilarated. Available on vinyl (in a limited run of 500 – 350 black, 150 white) and digitally (via that ubiquitous digital platform, Bandcamp), this self-titled release shows a band unwilling to let their disgust at the modern day political system weigh them down into apathy, and the result is a punishing, sixteen minute collection of diamond hard anthems for the disaffected.
Opening with the punishing ‘ideals to the fire’, the band lay out their brutal style with conviction, Marco Malcorps unleashing a primal roar that dominates Jacob Krogholt’s immense riffs and Nikolaj Borg’s virtuoso drumming. Amidst the slashing riffs and frantic double bass assault you can hear influences that hark back to Darkthrone’s blackest assaults crossbred with the clear sighted lyrical honesty of the hardcore scene and the immense production of psychotic death metal. It’s a sledgehammer to the cranium and there is no doubt that the band’s aggravated approach will appeal to those with a taste for the extreme. Without pausing to draw breath we’re into the seething ‘slave dogmatics’, which pits Jacob’s wall of guitars against Marco’s terrifying bellow to grand effect. The band have a punkish edge not dissimilar to The Rotted on their brutally satisfying album ‘ad nauseam’ and before you know it the razor sharp riff of ‘no second earth’ is tickling your jugular. Casting rampant black metal shapes against bassist K.B Larsen’s thuggish rhythms and Nikolaj’s increasingly frenetic, d-beat infused percussion, Jacob plays like a man possessed, his fingers smoking as he shreds them against the white-hot strings of his guitar.
A (very) brief pause allows ‘the highest privilege’ to swell out of feedback rather than simply slap you in the face with full force, the band displaying taut dynamics as the guitars wreathe around the unhinged percussive mayhem unleashed by K.B even as Marco tears his lungs out in an attempt to be heard over the wall of noise. ‘Blame the victim’ feels like a mugging, the furious beating administered by the band, short, bloody and apt to leave you disorientated. The final track, ‘a new discourse on enlightenment’ introduces a sludgy, brooding feel to the record, the corrosive riffs possessed by the spirit of Black Sabbath and Khanate and filtered through the band’s devastating view of the modern world. Few bands sound so comprehensively malevolent as Anti Ritual do here, which makes the track a fitting conclusion to an EP that is every bit as vicious and unyielding as a political riot.
Principled, unutterably violent and possessed of a dark intelligence, Anti Ritual are a band who take their sense of disaffection and utilise it as their muse, carving something unique, unpleasant and blisteringly ugly in the process. It is a matter of record that uncertain times provide fertile breeding grounds for the imaginative artist. In the modern world, post the 2008 recession and with increasingly divided governments looking set to make the same economically and morally bankrupt mistakes that placed us on the path to recession in the first place, the scene is perfectly set for a new breed of politically disenfranchised artists to make their mark. Anti Ritual hit home with the primitive force of the punk bands who rose to prominence in the post gold standard economic uncertainty of the 70s, but here imbue their sound with the frozen rage of black metal and the grimy brutality of sludge. Uncompromising, undiluted and unstoppable, Anti Ritual are one of the most grimly exciting bands to appear in a long and fans of extreme music owe it to themselves to check out this catastrophically brutal EP.