Review: Snøgg “Ritual of the Sun”

Review: Snøgg “Ritual of the Sun”

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Score 70%
Summary
70 %
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One long-format song, a ritualistic paean to the Mayan sun god, Kinich Ahau, set to an organically shifting, amorphous black metal soundtrack. This is the technical description for the last release by Snøgg, Ritual of the Sun. And if none of these strangely disparate components set off alarm bells, then I cannot recommend this record strongly enough.

Yes, it’s a peculiar format and a daunting listening experience – as well as an exercise in attentiveness that may stretch the abilities of millennial and Gen Z audiences – but it is a worthwhile one. Here’s a band that are pushing the boundaries of the genre, and have been doing so since their first demo in 2014, across multiple EP and split releases and their previous full-length, Chhinnamasta, released in 2019. Ritual of the Sun is, however, their first foray into such an experimental format and, while a daring move, an explicit manifestation of their willingness to grow.

This does not automatically imply success, however: Ritual of the Sun is not without its drawbacks. Its ritualistic flavor, for example, is less fully realized than that exhibited by the likes of Cult of Fire or Mephorash; the shifts in mood, while organic for the most part, do feel somewhat unrelated – even disconnected in places. Separating these elements of the ritual into individual ‘tracks’ does impart a better sense of the proceedings, but I do understand the need for a single, committed running order: rituals of any kind – religious, magickal, sexual – require strict constraints and even opening up the opportunity for shuffling the order or losing out on any fundamental aspect seems unforgivable.

Despite this, it is still an exciting record. Ritual of the Sun is authentic and believable – itself a massive accomplishment, given that Snøgg is a Slovenian duo setting Mayan themes to music – and a composition that improves with time. My first impression was dismissive, to be honest, as it felt derivative of any number of other atmospheric black metal acts, but this changed radically with subsequent spins. The disconnect I referred to earlier even became idiosyncratic and whimsical with repeated exposure, and the multiple vocal patternings in particular became more of a conversation than a lecture.

Release Date: July 17th, 2020

https://www.facebook.com/Snoggband/

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