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NunFuckRitual - "In Bondage To The Serpent" (CD)

NunFuckRitual - "In Bondage To The Serpent" CD cover image

"In Bondage To The Serpent" track listing:

1. Theotokos (7:21)
2. Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen (6:55)
3. Christotokos (8:47)
4. Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore (7:55)
5. Parthenogen (7:35)
6. In Bondage To The Serpent (6:15)

Reviewed by on November 17, 2011

"The songwriting itself is surprisingly elaborate for a debut album, and while the excitement level is pretty tame, there’s enough stomach-churning noise to satisfy the sadistic side of the human soul."

NunFuckRitual is a collaboration between several members of underground Norwegian black metal groups, along with Brutal Truth bassist Dan Lilker. The band’s name alone should inspire the usual backlash from the ultra-conservative, but their brand of black metal on “In Bondage To The Serpent” has few similarities to the norm. Sure, there’s the untuneful vocals and lack of production values, drowning out Lilker’s contributions. It wouldn’t be much of a black metal record without those staples. The songwriting itself is surprisingly elaborate for a debut album, and while the excitement level is pretty tame, there’s enough stomach-churning noise to satisfy the sadistic side of the human soul.

There isn’t much of a reach on “In Bondage To The Serpent” to submit to the usual pound-and-smash method. Most of the six songs plod and slither unknowingly through static, made more unnerving by the low-key keyboard and effects work from vocalist Espen T. Hangård. Aiming for a sound that has been a favorite of a band like Triptykon, NunFuckRitual is in no hurry with their evil undertaking. Nothing is ever plainly stated, as minutes can go by with minimal progression.

Writing songs in this fashion is good for building up to a fast break, as it does on the thrilling opener “Theotokos.” It has a doom-ish pace that takes up almost 2/3 of the song before a single guitar riff enters in a vicious ending. However, what the band tends to do is spend a lot of time setting the mood for little gain. “Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore” has a dark tone that matches the song’s title, yet goes for almost eight attention-draining minutes.

Vocalists Attila Csihar (Mayhem) and Ravn (1349) make a guest appearance on “Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen.” Having two well-renowned black metal vocalists involved helps lend some prestige to the track. Their vocals are on par with Hangård’s, who likes to keep a raspy tone, whether it’s screaming or taking on a spoken word approach. At times, the production seems to muffle his voice; a situation that is clearly evident on “Parthenogen.”

“In Bondage To The Serpent” is a boring album musically, though not without some credible ideas. There are parts where the listener gets sucked straight into the rancid environment that the band likes to inhabit, and then there are songs that go nowhere, like the title track. With no song less than six minutes long, the material is unnecessarily stretched out. Having four musicians together that have been a part of at least a dozen noteworthy acts seems like a capable unit in theory, but “In Bondage To The Serpent” is just “there.”

Highs: Attila Csihar and Ravn guesting on "Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen," chilly atmosphere suits the album, isn't just some standard-fare black metal output

Lows: Songs go too long on the same ideas/riffs, lackluster production, doesn't resonate well from a long-term perspective

Bottom line: A ton of talent involved, but a lack of compelling material doesn't give the band much leverage beyond the shock of their name.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)