Impetuous Ritual – Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence (2014)

Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence

Remember Kawazu, that riled-up swarm of bees intro to Gateways To Annihilation ? Impetuous Ritual have created an entire album of songs set in a hornet’s hive, using much of the same sound effect, however it is produced, as background to their brand of extreme war metal, if you can call this so. Note the emphasis on “extreme”, for Impetuous Ritual single-handedly make the whole of this limited genre redundant. That is no commentary on the virtues or weaknesses of this album, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride and black/war metal bands, despairing of their inability to surpass this album’s density, would throw down arms and rid us of this genre’s pestilential presence.

Formed by Portal band members, Impetuous Ritual share much of that band’s take on extreme metal. Which is to say there is next to no song-writing to be found here, at least not in the conventional sense. But it is perhaps more interesting to deliberate on just how this band and others like it approach composition. For it is fair to say, and I’m sure the band would agree, that these songs are composed as fixed stacks of parts; pop something from this stack and the song ceases to remain as the musicians envisioned it.

In this way, extremely chaotic, cacophonous music like Portal and Impetuous Ritual differs from, say, Indian classical ragas which are open to interpretation and improvisation based on mood and setting. As random and ad-lib as Impetuous Ritual‘s music may seem at times, it still occupies a fixed, well-defined space, at least in the musician’s mind. Where a raga can be likened to a perpetual flowering of an ideal in the moment, Impetuous Ritual, and indeed all of “composed” metal, has the ideal nailed and solidified in the mind; the metal that follows thereafter is simply the realization of a foregone conclusion.

But therein also arises a strange dichotomy in motives. Impetuous Ritual, as composed music, fails to communicate sensible, interesting dialogue between its presumably pre-arranged parts. Its idea of composition, instead, is to use fixed parts of little inherent meaning to create overwhelming atmosphere. To me, what bands like Portal and Impetuous Ritual attempt is to capture the transience of the individual moment but, contradictorily enough, through music that is built on top of a relatively stable foundation. This is a lofty vocation on paper but it comes up short in execution, at least at this stage in its evolution.

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