By the end of last summer Finnish extreme metal trio Damnation Prayer has emerged with their debut album Blood Ritual: Symbols of Warfare and Annihilation, releasing it utterly independently. Their main creative goal is focused on black metal’s primitiveness and atmospheric starkness through rough harshness of brutality.
Damnation Prayer is a young band, but quite experienced, each of the musicians has participated in many local bands (and also quite famous like …And Oceans or Gloria Morti). This project combines a lot of musical ideas from their other bands as well as contains something unique, owned entirely by Damnation Prayer. Here they absolutely freely indulge in the deepest and the maddest rules of black metal, transforming them into a chaotic frenzy. But still with some precautionary measures, never truly straying away from black metal’s path. They praise the power of death and sing about evil caused by human kind, and within the mythological and religious veil of bloody horrors, everything returns into impenetrable darkness.
The sound is pretty fuzzy and unclean (but still not too raw or irredeemably dirty) and it gives some points to extra harshness. These Finnish metalheads love to play with rhythms, squeezing it from monumental slowness to furious monstrosity of speed. All four compositions (except “When Death Ascends the Throne”) begin and end with a minimalistic intro/outro, so slow that it conveys the background vibes, distant and repetitive. This background mode is sometimes provided by almost inaudible assistance of synthesizers, creating melancholic and atmospheric soundscapes (“Temples of Flesh Scorched”). It’s amazing how the static slowness channels ritualistic mood, shifting towards tragic doom metal. And on the contrary, the rapidness leads towards thrash metal’s tumultuous turmoil. The pace also depends on the singing manner – profound and abnormally low when slow and emotional and feisty during the fastest compositions.
The last 18-minute song “Into Burning Oblivion” offers a lot of mood shifts and some sort of stylistic surprises. There are some claims for melodic parts during the depressive passage (but not in DSBM manner). But these melodic attempts are thoroughly destroyed by the Kaosbringer’s singing lines, absolutely non-melodic (he prefers to chant rather than sing). And with chaotic and messy guitar chords, “Into Burning Oblivion” reels on the verge of uncontrolled disarray. It seems at a glance – it’s just canonic and traditional black metal, but then all those unexpected elements pop up, tearing the musical canvas into ragged wall of noises. Under the protection of primitive and monotonous conformity here and there emerges something hysterical, out of routine or mystical and then returns back to the primal instincts of black metal. So on the one hand Blood Ritual: Symbols of Warfare and Annihilation is so simple and straightforward, and on the other there are enough pitfalls to refute such plain lucidity.
The unholy/cannibalistic/perverse scene displayed on the green artwork is a common topic for black/death metal bands, symbolically emphasizing the absurdity of religion’s intrusive dogmas. Perfect representation of the ideas governed by inner demons as well as complicated concept of unfreedom. So is this music, full of anti-clichés and social triggers, but dipped into direct and unambiguous codex of black metal – merciless and blunt, but still in a way open-minded.
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