Bestialis - Ritus

17 Jan 2021 - Thorsten

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We all know the popular formula for good atmospheric black metal, but yet, there are always bands whose execution is so flawless that it simply demands attention and admiration and Bestialis’ new EP Ritus is one of these.

The longstanding duo from Western Germany have been a part of North-Rhine-Westphalia’s Culthe Collective (which also organizes the Culthe Fest in Münster) but this EP is their debut release with their first full-length already being a work-in-progress. And if we take Ritus and its 16 minutes across a prelude and three songs as a sign of what’s to come, then that full-length should not keep the audience waiting for too long. Lastaurus, Bestialis’ vocalist, and Absorber, the guitarist, have creating some shamanistic ritual songs that in some way remind us of The Ruins of Beverast, who often had some similar song ideas.

Interesting about Ritus is the combination of lyrics and music – let’s have a look at the lyrics first: Lastaurus, who wrote them, came up with some very good and accurate descriptions of Sumerian rituals: “Soul to soul / Metempsychosis / Blood to blood / Life juice absorption / Limb to limb / Mergence of bodies / Strength to strength / Potentisation” (taken from the third track Ur-Veneration) - a reminder how closely connected some of our Christian values are originally to Middle Eastern religions. Just compare the ideas “Blood to Blood”, “Limb to Limb” with “Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust” or the idea of a transcorporal threefold-god-entity with the idea of a “mergence of bodies” - two or more become one. Interesting is also the kind of switch between the perspectives – in one song the ritual is described from within (see the chants above) AND from the outside: “Strange rituals, cult of veneration / Divinity of basic human animal needs / Satisfying hunger, carnal pleasures to be pleased”. This differentiation really makes them highly enjoyable. The last track “Non-Domestication: Fall of Gilgamesh” seems to be more about telling a story from Babylon than about a ritual: Gilgamesh was forced to fight the heavenly bull, that Ishtar had brought to the realm of man to punish people of Uruk and after he and his friend Enkidu had killed the bull and Gilgamesh had proclaimed himself to be the strongest, Enkidu died as a punishment for Gilgamesh. Bestialis are really able to purvey an image of old Sumerian history and society that is well-rounded and not superficial in any way.

Musically, one will notice that the duo with the help of their friend O Grego created old-school-infused raw black metal with a few nicely spread calmer parts, for example the middle part of the second track Re-Incantation which is only bass and hits on the drum rim. The instrumental opening track Incensio (Prelude) is also very important to set the tone for the record, even though the beginning with the simple acoustic string pickings and the few interspersed acoustic licks on a second line are nicely countered by some very heavy drum blasts just before the second track kicks in. Incensio is the proverbial calm before the storm which then spreads their mythological lyrics. The drums and riffs are able to change pace and speed at any given point which is very important to create an interesting record that one wants to re-visit by simply hitting the repeat button.

Irregular listeners will probably classify this as typical black metal which musically might even be true, but what is really nice is the level of execution on this record. There is no unnecessary part in these tracks, they are not dragging along, they have the exact right length and they give genre fans exactly what they want and expect from a record released on well-renown Vendetta label who can be happy to have added another gem to their roster.