Ritual Day - Sky Lake
Mort Productions
Black Metal
9 songs (42:00)
Release year: 2002
Mort Productions
Reviewed by Keegan
Surprise of the month

The black metal scene in Bejing, China isn’t exactly a hotbed of bands waiting to explode into the worldwide metal landscape, however the recent release of Ritual Day’s Sky Lake has managed to create a new interest in the genre throughout the country. Only three years since their formation, Ritual Day has become one of the most respected extreme metal bands in China.

The band draw heavy influence from the classic Norwegian black metal groups and creat a sound that is apacolyptic, raw and brutal. Tracks such as the opener, and title track of the band is more or less standard black metal-blast beat fare. Though songs like this are basically repeating what has come before, Ritual Day manages to find space within the chaos to add a lot of melody and structure. Lead guitarist Zhang Xin provides tons of Maiden-esque lead lines throughout the entirety of the album. Songs like Puppets of Lost Souls have lead melodies that stretch the entire course of the song, and impressive solos. For the most part it is the melodic content of the record that gives the band an appeal that many black metal bands have a difficult time finding. Vocalist Nong Yong has a unique and likeable voice though his lyrics are impossible to understand and their transcriptions in the albums liner notes are written entirely in Chinese.

The band are not content to strictly play traditional black metal and do have a few tricks up their sleeves. Deracinate Humanity features a slower tempo, with more of a hardcore feel and an acoustic bridge and outro, reminiscient of Opeth. The Unholy Year is Coming, while for the most part a black metal song, has an extended, mellow neo-classical section. As a person who would not usually listen to an entire black metal album at a time, I found Sky Lake very easy to listen to from the opening riff of the bands title song, to the fading outro of the spectacular death/black crossover Gleam of Halo over 40 minutes later.

Sky Lake is obviously very cheaply produced. while the volume levels of every instrument are well balanced, the sound quality of the instruments leaves much to be desired. While I usually can’t stand an album that doesn’t sound good, the incredibly raw production of the album lends to the overall character of the band, any more polished and Sky Lake might lose it’s evil feel.

Any black metal fan who hasn’t already should check Ritual Day out. Anyone whos had trouble getting into the genre should do the same.

Killing Songs :
The Unholy year is Coming, Deracinate Humanity, Puppets of Lost Souls, Gleam of Halo
Keegan quoted 80 / 100
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