Impetuous Ritual’s Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence: Good Intent, Generic Execution
Time for a history lesson. Australian Lovecraft lovers Portal apparently began conjuring Cthulhu in the mid-90s, though they didn’t widen the cult to any great degree before 2003’s Seepia, and it wasn’t until 2007 that Profound Lore Records bent time, space, and the ears of the Great Old Ones by releasing the is-it-black-or-death-or-is-my-mind-melting Outré. Since Impetuous Ritual’s debut, Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence, first appeared in 2009, the band was quickly labeled a Side Project and appreciated as a secondary pleasure. Such status was somewhat ill deserved, as the demon wizards Ignis Fatuus and Omenous Fugue had already set Impetuous Ritual’s dark campaign in motion sometime before they ever lent their abyssal talents to Portal.
Now that you’ve been so succinctly schooled, we have a new Impetuous Ritual record to dissect, and we should make quick work of it before it reverses roles and shreds our organs while we watch. Capped with yet another obtuse five-word title, Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence proves yet again that these four Aussie cretins have no respect whatsoever for compositional subtlety, genre boundaries or tasteful restraint. By which we mean this record is fucking awesome. Despite being ruled by perfectly acceptable song lengths (mostly between 3 and 4 minutes), UCHA feels less like an album of songs and more like an extended treatise on subterranean violence and the mostly indistinguishable mood swings of a cave troll. The instruments seem to be perpetually in motion, even during the nominally more languid “Despair”; guitars tremble in mid- to low-end tremolo agony, and the rhythm section bashes out a more-or-less merciless barrage. Ignis Fatuus’ bellows echo gloomily from some inaccessible chamber somewhere deep in the mix. The tone never wavers from its morbid brooding.
Pretty clearly, I love the intent and result of Impetuous Ritual’s second full-length. So why the mediocre score? The fact remains, in a taste test among UCHA, its predecessor, and anything by Portal, Abyssal, Mitochondrion or a few others, I probably wouldn’t be able to pick it out from the crowd. I crave them all, and I will listen to every single album, but that doesn’t mean that every album is essential listening. Impetuous Ritual do what they do very well, and their music should appeal to all who wish that anything resembling traditionally structured music would be gutted, shredded and squeezed into sausage links (or patties, we’re not judging). Will this become the new go-to lo-fi death device? Eh…