Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hour of 13: The Ritualist (2010)


Hour of 13 is an old-school/retro heavy/doom metal band from North Carolina, and The Ritualist is their second full-length. If you haven't already, you may want to first read my review of Orchid's Capricorn, as my impressions of the two albums are linked.

RitualistLike Orchid, Hour of 13 sound a lot like Black Sabbath. Specifically, they sound kind of like a cross between Dio and Ozzy era Sabbath, as if they're from an alternate universe where the original lineup stuck together but still made a fantastic comeback. Like Orchid, all the tones and vocals are similar to Sabbath. But here's the difference: Hour of 13 don't sound like they're trying to be Sabbath, they just happen to sound like Sabbath--but distinct. Everything, including the vocals, has its own unique quality that's subtly different from Sabbath, and never comes off as blatant ripoff or unabashed mimicry, but instead like they could have arisen from the same Birmingham scene as the original metal band.

Also like Orchid, the tunes are very catchy. But unlike Orchid, these are not just Sabbath riffs and songs rearranged into lesser forms of themselves. The riffs sound like Iommi could have written them, but they're not riffs we've already heard on Sabbath records. The songs are originals, not new arrangements of classics.

Finally, Hour of 13 has made the wise choice to make the record sound like it was recorded with modern equipment. No, it's not ultra-polished, sanitized crap, but it takes modern technology and uses it the way it should be used. The result is a heavier record that sounds good as well as natural.

In a nutshell, that's the difference between Orchid and Hour of 13. The former are basically a tribute band, while the latter are originals that sound like they could have been contemporary with Sabbath, but blessed with better recordings.

The Verdict: Hour of 13 have done 70's retro metal the way it should be done, and the songs are catchy as hell. I give The Ritualist 4 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you liked that one. Hour of 13 is certainly a good, up-and-coming band.