With some records, it can be difficult to find an easy way in. The music by its nature might just be too abrasive to have any elements even close to accessible, or the atmosphere might just be that unwelcoming. So it is with The Ritual from AntiMozdeBeast. There’s elements here that will be familiar to fans of bands like Skinny Puppy, but whereas that band would make the occasional concession to accessibility (think of the melodies on early tracks like ‘Assimilate’ or the almost EDM nature of their later albums), The Ritual does no such thing. It’s industrial metal as noise, full-on immersion that is head-spinning at first, but gradually reveals a tangible structure.
The first impression of The Ritual is of belligerence, of an album doing things solely on its own terms with no consideration for the listener. Heavily distorted screams sit atop stuttering rhythms and bursts of melody, that at first all seem to be working against one another. Even the melodies provide no easy handholds, meaning the only way to grapple with The Ritual is to throw yourself fully into it, trusting in yourself not to drown in its waves. It’s a tough ask, but not an impossible one. The Ritual might seem at first like it doesn’t want to let you in, but that’s a bit of a façade; give it time and you’ll begin to make sense of it.
Even so, it’s arguable that The Ritual works best – and is best thought of – as a mood piece than something to be enjoyed. The way it constantly switches sounds and emphasis, whilst never letting up in intensity, makes for a deeply unsettling experience. There’s catharsis on offer here, but it’s a catharsis that has to be fought for; it absolutely won’t come easy, and it’s perfectly possible that the record could induce anxiety rather than help reduce it. But that’s the risk with music as full-on as this. You’re not just trusting in AntiMozdeBeast to offer you sight of a way in; you’re trusting in yourself that you can grasp hold of it once it is offered.
As such, The Ritual is best approached with a degree of caution and consideration. It’s not music you can just throw on regardless of mood and enjoy as background noise; it demands attention and an emotional reaction. The question is, are you in the right headspace to risk it? When it hits right it is glorious, an exhausting rush of adrenaline and catharsis. If it hits wrong it is a panic attack in sonic form, all racing hearts and shallow breaths. But is it worth the risk? Absolutely.
The Ritual is out on April 23rd and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain