Ritual Dictates is the ambitious genre-demolishing side project from Justin Hagberg (3 Inches of Blood) and drummer Ash Pearson (Revocation). Back in 2020 they released their debut album, Give in to Despair. Those expecting death-tinged power metal and orc slaying were likely surprised by the project’s synth-drenched direction. Ritual Dictates blends proggy vocal harmonies, goth rock, post-punk, and proto-metal into an enchanting elixir of influences. Their new album No Great Loss strays even further from extreme metal, but retains its dark heart. The album is out October 7th from Artoffact Records, but we have an early stream of the whole record for you a few days early.
Opener “Burn the Widow” startles with its shouted title preceding blasting organs and bass lines. After Hagberg’s sparkling vocals drift into the mix, the metallic components slyly seep into the composition. “Goth and Exhausted” features more glitter and glamour than the title suggests. “Aqua Tofana” emerges as an album highlight with its sultry lurch and guest vocals from Brittney Hayes (Unleash the Archers). “Autumn Song” is a hypnotic doom ballad that earns its run-time with thoughtful texturing and a sense of solemn drama. Instead of sonic heaviness, album closer “Succumbing to the Ravages of Age” opts for thematic heft. The rumination on morality is harrowing but supremely confident in its delivery. The track blossoms into one of the hardest rock passages of the album; a sprinting finale that transforms the song before fading to black.
“No Great Loss is a natural progression for the band,” explains project mastermind Justin Hagberg. “Trying to recreate Give In To Despair or follow some similar fashion would have felt like swimming against the current, so it was liberating to just go with the flow.
“Having the time to write this album was the silver lining I found in isolation,” he continues. “No Great Loss really is a product of the pandemic. I can certainly hear how that period in my life altered the creative writing process and the overall direction we took. And that excites me, knowing that I will find some joy and growth in every new experience of life, however light or dark it may be.”
Succumb to a world of gray skies and shimmering harmonies and press play below.