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Dark Ritual
March 2002
Released: 2001, Independent
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

This band has a really impressive layout, presentation and marketing style that makes you really want to like them, and look forward to hearing this mini-CD. Unfortunately, like a Ginsu cutlery set, I found the real deal didn’t quite live up to the promise of its promotions.

Dark Ritual are a newer band from the Chicago area that could probably be well described as playing “dark” metal. It’s difficult for me to say what genre this is – there are elements of black metal, death, doom and thrash. I rather like the fact that this isn’t easily characterized as one style over another, and was surprised since the lettering and look of these guys makes you think of black metal immediately. However, their music lacks a kind of focus, and for that reason I didn’t find it particularly impressive. None of the three tracks, “Frayed,” “Princess,” and “My Skin Unbroken,” really stand out. There is some good rhythm and guitar work. I like the chugging intro of the first track, and the slower-paced, almost doomy stuff in “Princess.” I especially liked the bass work on this album and I think Dark Ritual’s bass player, Justin Smith, is excellent. That being said, nothing here really moved me. Vocalist Dale Tippett, Jr. has too much punk and not enough metal in his voice for my taste and I found a lot of his delivery somewhat passionless. Furthermore, the writing of the songs is very technically and structurally sound, but not that creative. These factors contributed to the “sameness” of the songs and the lack of anything really great to hang your hat on.

This mini-CD has a special multimedia section, which I actually found quite impressive – better than the rest of the CD, in fact! The band obviously spent a lot of time putting together the presentation, which includes info, lyrics, pictures and a video which is well-shot and professionally done. Occasionally new bands try to do CD-Rom tracks and they’re not always successful, but Dark Ritual is probably the best I’ve seen from an independent production.

They’ve got the look, the marketing savvy and the packaging down pat – but Dark Ritual need to work a little on their music. This is average. Not bad, not particularly good. Enough said.
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by Michael De Los Muertos

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