Behind every legend, there’s always a tiny bit of truth. While it’s obviously still open to debate how much credit one must give to the Buckriders mythos – or ‘Bokkenrijders’ in their native tongue, the various gangs of thieves or who kept under their thumb the southern part of Holland throughout the 18th century by pretending they had signed a pact with the Devil and rode through the cold northern sky on the back of flying goats – it’s still make one hell of story. And the perfect setting for an extreme metal album such as Rituals of the Dead Hand debut, “Blood Oath”.
The oppressive sounds and effects that build in Bonderkuil sets the scene nicely. This is a dark and twisted piece of work. One to leave you uncomfortable and tense so when the track does break into a methodical and haunted rhythm of heaviness, it’s somewhat a relief.
The doom-like boom with vocals that go between demanding and desperate, the filthy and crusted riffs and sludgy style of bass and drums makes this opener and the album as a whole, a startling listen.
The slow, rhythmic style of Rituals of the Dead Hand pushes Sworn’s nightmare-fuelled metal sound into the brain demanding your subservience to its evil. It’s as bleak as you could ever hope it to be and even the temporary reprieve of The Gathering doesn’t allow escape for long.
In fact it just builds even more dread for the horrifying pace of They Rode by Night. This is what hell sounds like and it is bloody awesome.
It might only be five tracks long but Rituals of the Dead Hand aren’t loosening their grip anytime soon as the 11+ minutes of the Scourge shows. The fuzz and hum of the guitars reach unbearable levels before the track finally breaks and unleashes hordes of hellish heaviness to wash over humanity. It truly is an experience like little else.
Rituals of the Dead Hand – Blood Oath Full Track Listing:
3. The Gathering
4. They Rode by Night
5. The Scourge
Rituals of the Dead Hand - Blood Oath (Dunkelheit Produktionen)
The Final Score - 8/10