Spotify is a godsend, okay? Say what you will about the streaming platform but without them and their daily mixes I would’ve never stumbled across artists like Soviet Soviet, She Past Away, or Ritual Howls who just hit Boston as direct support for The Faint while supporting their latest, Rendered Armor which was released in March.
Unlike the bleak Peter Murphy meets Pj Harvey drones of “Scatter The Stars” off Into The Waters, “Alone Together” is oddly more upbeat from the get go. Like something out of old school Westworld (The movie, not the show meaning the perfect soundtrack for cyborg cowboys wreaking havoc) combined with Depeche Mode circa Violator and you have a good idea of what you’re getting into here. As with other RH releases, vocalist/guitarist Paul Bancell stands out with that Murphy meets Bernard Sumner style or even Mat McNerney of Grave Pleasures if you’re looking for a more modern starting point.
“Mother Of The Dead” is like The Cure meets early INXS with Ben Saginaw’s bass and Christopher Samuels’ synthetic beats causing an air of despair sprinkled with hopeful flourishes and then “Love Cuts” goes for the jugular on this new dancefloor Gothic anthem with hypnotic beats and bouncy rhythms as Bancell’s restrained maniacal delivery echoes the anxiety his guitar work simultaneously delivers. “The Offering” follows and is simply gorgeous as this epic sonic landscape created by Samuels is subtly invaded by Saginaw’s accented low end.
When Ritual Howls does go bleak, they do it very, very well. Take “I Can Hear Your Tears” for example with a vampiric vibe as Bancell snarls amongst Samuels’ pulsating programmed beats and Saginaw’s bass drones to create a cross between “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and Ministry’s more primal and tribal works of the late ’80’s. You know how there are certain songs that define a band’s “sound”? Well this, like “Scatter The Stars” is that kind of song for Ritual Howls.
Delving further, Saginaw’s bass drives “Thought Talk” while Bancell’s guitar work glistens on top of it all until “All I’ve Known” brings Rendered Armor to a close with a swirling ode to the ’80’s Dance and Electro scene.
Rendered Armor is out now on Felte Records and highly recommended. You can get yours here or here. As stated previously, RH just hit the road with The Faint and are doing a slew of East Coast dates currently. For where to catch them next, head here and here.
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