Album Review – Ritual of Odds / Ritual of IX (2017)

Join the wrathful and mordant ritual spearheaded by the Melodic Death Metal masters of underground Greek music.

Formed in the year of 2003 in Patras, Greece’s third-largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece, Melodic Death Metal quartet Ritual of Odds (known as Existence Edge until 2005) is unleashing upon us their third full-length installment, peculiarly titled Ritual of IX, taking influences from renowned bands such as At The Gates, In Flames and Carcass. Forging a unique sound by infusing elements of Thrash, Horror and Epic Metal into their own musicality, Ritual of Odds will show you with Ritual of IX why they’ve been called the “Melodic Death Metal Masters of Greece”, blasting a high-quality fusion of harmony and havoc throughout the album’s ten unrelenting compositions.

One curious fact about the band is that, before Ritual of IX, their two previous full-length albums were released on the same year, in 2010, those being Underverse and God is an Atheist (not to mention their highly acclaimed demo entitled Building Up the Underverse, from 2008). In addition, the band has already toured Europe and the United States to support the release of their albums, sharing the stage with important names like Paul Di’Anno, Septicflesh and Nightrage. With such a strong background both inside the studio and on the road, it isn’t a surprise to anyone that the music found in Ritual of IX would sound so cohesive and energetic, reinforcing the band’s importance in contemporary Melodic Death Metal.

Tailored for fans of the modern metal played by Arch Enemy blended with old school In Flames, the title-track Ritual of 9 offers a constant and aggressive drumming by Petros Haritos, while the vocals by Kostas Fotopoulos lean towards a more visceral fusion of Death and Black Metal, inviting the listener to the band’s own ritual (“Deteriorated in agony – Screw it all and gone with me / There’s no escape / Insanity / The limitless eternity / A life infected with vanity? / Welcome to a new reality / Wither and die? – Ritual of 9 / This is the ritual of 9”). In Hunt You Down, a somber beginning flows into an atmospheric, dark composition where a possessed Kostas leads his bandmates in an extremely vile onslaught, with guitarist Nikolas Perlepes delivering some classic melodic and headbanging riffs; followed by Feargas, bringing elements from Progressive and Groove Metal while singing about modern-day topics (“Who do you think you are? / Your nations look like herds of sheep / Intoxicated souls with lies and fear / Lethal frequencies radio, TV / Twisted minds tell me how I should be / For fuck sake I’m not a part of your army of zombies”). Moreover, the infernal gnarls by Kostas are powerfully supported by the rhythmic and heavy beats by Petros during the entire song.

Displaying a great name for a metal tune, Hate at First Sight presents a weird intro with excerpts from different TV and radio news, quickly turning into more pounding music by these talented Greeks. In a nutshell, this is the type of song made to lacerate your neck headbanging, with its drums sounding like a machine gun. Sirens in the background warn Ritual of Odds are coming to crush with their violent metal music in A Part of Me, showcasing a modernized sonority thanks to the guitar lines by Nikolas, but of course without losing the essence of Melodic Death Metal. And following almost the same tone and pace as its predecessor we have Digital Hell, a fantastic song to make people jump up and down during their live concerts with the bass lines by Marios Kanellopoulos emanating those thunderous, groovy sounds that beautifully increase the song’s impact.

The kick-ass neck-breaking tune Why So Serious is their personal tribute to the iconic Joker played by Heath Ledger (R.I.P.), with its intro (and chorus) being inspired by one of the most memorable scenes in the history of action movies, while the music itself is as violent and demented as the Joker, especially through the deep growling by Kostas. Put differently, how not to enjoy this smashing creation by Ritual of Odds? And there’s more of the band’s stabbing musicality, as the riffs in the fast and berserk Greed exhale pure metal, also presenting very harmonious guitar lines and nonstop beats, which altogether will work really well when the song is played live, whereas The Dual Substance of Man, also sounding modern and old school at the same time, is perhaps the closest one to traditional Death Metal, with Nikolas having a great performance with his riffs and solos. Lastly, in the eerie and obscure What I’ve Become, a psychological song about violence, death, hatred and all other “nice things” that transform the human being into a beast, a solid instrumental provides Kostas exactly what’s needed for his vocals to get more deranged and pugnacious.

After listening to the potent music by Ritual of Odds, I’m sure you’ll be more than eager to be part of the band’s melodic and vicious ritual, and that’s why I’m going to be very helpful by providing you the links to their Facebook page, YouTube channel and ReverbNation. And, as usual, you can support Greek metal and heavy music in general by grabbing your copy of Ritual of IX at the Swimming With Sharks Records’ BandCamp page (which includes as a more-than-amazing bonus a free download of the band’s 2010 album God is an Atheist) or on Amazon. These guys are not called the “Melodic Death Metal Masters of Greece” in vain, and you’ll certainly start referring to them as that after adding Ritual of IX to your private collection of underground metal.

Best moments of the album: Ritual of 9, Digital Hell and Why So Serious.

Worst moments of the album: The Dual Substance of Man.

Released in 2017 Swimming With Sharks Records

Track listing
1. Ritual of 9 3:15
2. Hunt You Down 5:38
3. Feargas 3:54
4. Hate at First Sight 4:09
5. A Part of Me 3:20
6. Digital Hell 3:36
7. Why So Serious 4:12
8. Greed 3:40
9. The Dual Substance of Man 3:23
10. What I’ve Become 5:49

Band members
Kostas Fotopoulos – vocals
Nikolas Perlepes – guitars
Marios Kanellopoulos – bass
Petros Haritos – drums

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