Hour of 13

The Ritualist

Written by: EW on 12/03/2011 23:11:31

Hour of 13's second album "The Ritualist", recently rereleased by Earache Records following an original release on Northern Silence early last year, opens with the kind of trippy doom vibe in short introduction piece "The Gathering" that does well to explain just how old-school in nature the fine 48 minutes of this LP turn out to be. Though at first reminding me of Jex Thoth thoughts swiftly turn to overtones of Trouble and Grand Magus, the resultant mixture emerging in a similar vein to Slough Feg: a healthy and enjoyable pairing of classic NWoBHM and true doom metal. Thankfully the lights of fashion nor trend make their way into these recesses, leaving us with releases deserving of the under-valued 'labour of love' title.

I've encountered numerable other doom projects whose main purpose appears to be glorify doom/metal (Mirror of Deception being a case in point) and I feel comfortable adding Hour of 13 to that pile. Nor will I think they'll mind. "Naked Star" recalls not only the obvious doom references of Trouble, Count Raven and Pentagram but to my ears a solid rock foundation back to the Creams and Led Zeps of this world (a pretty linear passage, obviously, back through the influences of early doomsters). The vocals, I believe handled by Philip Swanson, as part Eric Wagner (Trouble) and part Ozzy, are the highlight of the album, however the production is worthy of mention being solidly humane and natural while not simply aping the naive sounds of their progenitors. Through repeated listens I'm finding no individual tracks making a plea to be a certifiable man of the match, though anyone with a heart even half as doomed as mine will take much from the hugely Troubled "Soldiers of Satan" and the not-unlike Candlemass spirit of "Evil Inside". The influences might not be unusual but the working of those towering legacies certainly is.

Looking at Hour of 13's Metal Archives and the number of other bands present for both (current) members suggests this being merely a side-project, a pity as "The Ritualist" is commendably strong in all departments and is reviewed with my recommendation as an album to those with a passing interest in the side of doom plied by any of those acts referenced here. Make it your duty to help support all those who defy the modern mechanical sound of metal - the Hour of 13 can be one of your first stops.

Download: Soldiers of Satan, Naked Star
For The Fans Of: Trouble, Jex Thoth, Count Raven, Slough Feg
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 24.01.2011
Earache Records

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