Our jaw would’ve dropped when we first heard Ritual Fog except “Funeral Fumes,” the demo opener, had already sent our poor mandible flying through space. The Memphis, Tennessee-based three-piece Ritual Fog released their three-song demo titled Visions of Blasphemy back in February, but the aftershocks continue to draw new listeners to its preternatural strength.
Ian Younkin, Ritual Fog’s guitarist/vocalist, tells us: “Ritual Fog started between myself and our Drummer Andrew. We both worked at the same grocery store at the time. I had some riff ideas and I knew Andrew played some drums so we met up and jammed. Slowly the jams became songs and a band was birthed. Spencer who plays bass for us also worked at the same grocery store so we then forced him into the band. The freon fog of the dairy cooler is what truly inspired the riffs.”
Ian goes on to say, “We have played in different bands, but never together. I also play in the bands Autolith and Shards of Humanity. Andrew plays in Thief’s Hand and Public Strain. Spencer also plays in Thief’s Hand. All of us in Ritual Fog also play in another death metal band called Excavate that just finished recording our first release.”
Okay, noted. Psyched for Excavate. But back to Ritual Fog, because the three tracks which compose Visions of Blasphemy are pound-for-unholy-pound some of the heaviest and most aggressive death metal to drop this year. “Of Dirt and Disease” begins, like very first second, by ripping your head right off your shoulders, your neck a fountain of blood and spinal ruin. Everything that happens after that is performed to a lifeless husk, you understand. Admittedly, a demo this blunt demands a few listens before its subtle nuances reveal themselves.
“I bring some song structures to the group and then we workshop them together to make them even foggier,” says Ian of Ritual Fog’s writing process. Regarding each of the songs on the demo, he says: “I like them all because they are so different from each other. ‘Funeral Fumes’ has the most fun riffs to play. ‘Chain Noose’ has the coolest structure. And ‘Of Dirt and Disease’ has a Cold as Life drum beat. If I had to pick I would lean towards ‘Chain Noose.’”
We tell Ritual Fog we need some long sleeves with the line Damned to crawl below the earth from “Of Dirt and Disease” on the back.
“That line would look mean as hell on a shirt,” they admit.
According to Ritual Fog’s Bandcamp, they recorded Visions of Blasphemy with Alan Burchman. We ask for a little more detail and Ian tells us: “Alan records bands out of his house. All of our other bands have recorded with him before so we were all on board to record our first release with him. He more or less records 90% of heavy bands in the Memphis area.
“The hardest part was being able to see my fretboard with the amount of fog emanating from the tracks,” Ian says.
For their cover art they went with a frame and logo from filthmonger Form Terror Growth. Says Ian: “I saw Form Terror Growth’s work on Instagram and instantly knew I wanted to work with him. For direction I told him to make something sick and drippy. He did just that. He also drew the border for the tape layout. His band Bloodspore is also insanely awesome!”
Visions of Blasphemy recently came out on tape, self-released by the band. Lucky for you, copies remain available. “I wanted this first release to be fairly homegrown and natural,” Ian explains. “Moving forward we will be looking to team up with some kind of label to make this fog even thicker.”
The future may be immensely foggy, but Ritual Fog seem confident in navigating it with their gargantuan, belligerent death metal. Ian tell us, “Plans moving forward [will be] playing out as much as possible and trying to get this beast in front of as many eyes and ears as we can. We have some out of town shows coming up this summer and will be working on more soon. Outside of shows we are already nearly done writing our next release and hopefully will start recording by the end of the year. We will be looking for label support for the next release to see how much further we can push this fog monster.”