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Bathyum – Rituals of the Damned (album review)

I have a confession to make. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to this debut album of Bathyum when it was released back in February 2016 and I was like …yeah, this album rules, I will review it!

The review has never happened. Shame. Cue forward a few years and by chance encounter with Heathen Tribes record labels I’ve re-discovered Bathyum again (and not only that, if you remember my review of Shadow Warrior EP). And this time, folks, I am not gonna let it slip through my arthritis-ridden fingers…

Well, Bathyum is an one-man black metal project from the UK. Which, with the current state of technology, doesn’t sound special anymore (and – luckily – you don’t need to expect a lo-fi “kvlt” bedroom recordings). But it still great to see the output of those good folks who can do all by themselves. I salute you.

I will pass on my usual song-by-song review, but I will say this – if you are a fan of black metal’s second wave, you’re gonna love it. The opening “Transcending Beyond the Realms of Humanity” brings forward the grand memories of Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, the feeling is definitely present and you can’t ask for a better start of the album.

And yes, I am aware I am talking about individual songs again, haha…but “Into the Black Sea of Trees” does deserve the mention. The variety of motiffs in this one will make sure you’re not gonna write this album off. Somewhat simplified tune compared to the aforementioned opening track, but I’d argue by simplifying it the song actually sounds better than an over-complicated affair it could be. And the monotonous ending wouldn’t be lost on some of earlier Burzum albums (and I say it as a positive thing, just to be clear here).

But then, I think “Godless Warrior” is unnecessary long. Not a bad song, but with its 7 minutes it’s somewhat dragging a bit.

And then – “Rituals of the Damned”. It’s a slow, ritualistic, instrumental, and as such you might like it, but you might not. I was very pleased with the guitar solo after 3 minute mark, which yeah, it’s again, so Burzumish for me. Therefore I’d put a thumb up here, but I am aware it might not be everyone’s cuppa.

Next in line is “Satanic Sodomy” and after a nice keyboard intro we’re back again in the maelström of devilish melodies and Satan worship, chainsaw guitars and spitfire-like drums. But what really shines here is that slow part, and kill me, this quite a blatant rip off of Satyricon’s “Mother North” – which, I assume, might shock some, but I don’t care. I, obviously, like “Mother North” quite a lot, and I don’t mind artistic inspiration. And if you do, well…I can’t help you here. But if you persevere …you will be awarded by the return of the initial black metal onslaught once again. Great song it is!

“Heaven in Flames”, again, fills the air with the simple, but mighty riffs fueled by the double-bass drums’ inferno and – again – I can’t but recall Mayhem’s debut. It’s obvious Bathyum rests heavily on Norwegian black metal legacy from the first half of 1990s and there’s nothing wrong with it – it was a really kick ass period for black metal.

But my favourite is the last track here. “Black Exorcism” starts with the audio sample of exorcism of Anneliese Michel which causes goosebumps on my hands everytime I hear it. That’s dark as hell itself! Obviously it sets the mood for the song and as a whole it’s a fitting climax of this nice wee debut album.

Sealed, signed and delivered – I’ve listened to this album a couple of times again and even with the critique expressed above, I will still maintain it’s a great album. Not perfect, but great. If you are a black metal fan, you won’t regret giving Bathyum a try. And the digipack was released by Heathen Tribes in a limited edition, so in case you want to have it in your collection, you better hurry up!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bathyum

Bandcamp: https://bathyum.bandcamp.com/album/rituals-of-the-damned

Heathen Tribes: https://heathentribes.bandcamp.com/

Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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