I like my metal like I like my coffee: black, sludgy, and full of distortion. While this might make for a disgusting and confusing coffee, it does make for some rather excellent (and ridiculously heavy) metal. I am, of course, talking about doom metal; the lazy cousin of death metal who can’t be bothered to play at face-melting speeds, and instead chooses to trudge along at a grim pace, dishing out riffs so crushingly heavy that death metal sounds like Kidz Bop in comparison. The young Minnesotan quartet Circadian Ritual have managed to embody all of this in their debut self-release, Circadian Ritual.
On first glance, Circadian Ritual looks like a relatively short album, spanning only four tracks. However, in true doom metal fashion, each track lasts well over ten minutes long; with the aptly titled “Ethereal Monolith” dominating the album, weighing in at 13 minutes. The track itself opens with a slow, crawling pace, featuring lead guitarist Rick Parsons and bassist Ben Shaffer, with Parsons’ tonal riffs intertwining with Shaffer’s deep, heavily distorted bass guitar, creating an intense infusion which I have rarely heard to be paralleled. The track acts as an instrumental until four and a half minutes in, when vocalist Jake Quittshreiber makes his grand appearance, roaring ferociously.
Unlike so many modern heavy metal bands, Quittshreiber’s voice is not an angry shout or an incomprehensible scream, but a throaty, hoarse-sounding bark; entirely intimidating yet clearly defined managing to be both ferocious but still understandable at the same time. “Ethereal Monolith” comes together piece by piece; first the guitars, then the drums, then the vocals, until the entire band are playing together as one, culminating in a triumphant wall of sound: a sludgy, slow, yet incredibly barbaric, sounding metal.
This is very much how the entirety of Circadian Ritual continues on; an unbelievably heavy mass of distorted guitars and harsh vocals with all the speed of a funeral procession, something which comes together so perfectly. There is a real feeling of unrest and disaster to the album too, with drummer Jim Clark occasionally going against the tempo of the song, or Parson playing an atonal mess of notes, both deliberate inclusions to heighten the feeling of impending doom. The level of intricacy and dedication from Circadian Ritual is simply astounding. They’ve created an album which has managed to capture the core of what the doom metal genre ‘is’; a feeling of melancholy and tragedy achieved through a harsh, slow, and heavy style of play.
Certainly an album that any fan of heavy metal should listen to immediately, Circadian Ritual is out now and available as a download or a limited release cassette here.