Nunfuckritual – In Bondage To The Serpent Review

originally written by Jim Brandon

It’s become rather clear to me lately how bands that seem ideal on paper, even from most every collaborative veteran angle, sometimes fail to formulate into anything to be properly praised. Nunfuckritual, despite carrying a moniker as embarrassing as it is wickedly cool, doesn’t really get off the ground the way one might expect with their debut full-length. Hosting a veteran cast of extreme metal characters with Espen T. Hangård (Altarr) on vocals, Teloch from Nidingr on guitar, Nuclear Assault/Brutal Truth bassist Dan Lilker, and Tyrant/The Black’s Andreas Jonsson on drums, In Bondage To The Serpent is a slice of crusty black nastiness, sans blastbeats and the like, and is firmly planted in the old-school-is-new-school aesthetic which has bled over from the death metal providences. For what the band does, it’s performed competently and typically absent of much technical to-do for such a gritty black style, but this was a difficult album to listen to and be able to separate a critical ear from a casual one, but not in a good way.

The cover art peculiarly depicts a nun being subjected to God-knows-what kind of horrific violations you can imagine taking place off-screen, but looking closer at the medium which was used, it’s plainly revealed to be a comic book style in the Image Comics vein. Obviously this has no bearing on the music, but it does, in a way, betray everything Nunfuckritual is: a band to get your feet wet with, but one that doesn’t have a ton to offer. Aesthetically, low and slow is the deal, and there’s an abundance of scratchy, grimy riffs to be consumed, but it sure takes a while to get to them most of the time. For instance, opening track “Theotokos” is an exercise in waiting for the ‘song’ to fucking start—annoying feedback and single chords are struck and sustained with virtually no musicality involved for a couple of minutes, and once Espen’s vocals kick in, I’m left wishing for something to happen, but this is how it starts. It is neither droning nor especially atmospheric, and the barely echoed production that misses the mark on its cavernous mix is detrimental to the impact these tunes make.

And if I can be blunt, Espen is not one of the best vocalists I’ve heard recently, as his growly, squirrely half-snarl is disjointedly matched with these trudging, barely mid-paced songs. It’s one thing to be brooding, moody and unhurried with this kind of gritty black metal (there’s a sea of this stuff out there), but it’s another to execute these tracks with what sounds to be minimal effort and absolutely no gravitas. The second number, “Komodo Dragon, Mother Queen” literally sounds like the first, with just a couple different melodic bits and a whispered, tedious vocal delivery for much of its length, and by the time “Cursed Virgin, Pregnant Whore” rolled on through, I couldn’t wait for one song to end, only to be almost instantly discouraged once the next one began. There’s an overwhelming desire to hear them either speed up a lot, or slow down even more, anything to break out of the monotonous mood with which they come right out of the gate.

In Bondage To The Serpent is an album full of songs you’ll never need to hear twice. This plodding chore is much less offensive than I might be letting on, as there’s not anything especially wrong here — it’s simply a case of only needing to listen to the first track to get the entire idea of the rest. There’s some briefly cool tremolo that appears slightly past the midway point of “Christokos” at least, but the thrill doesn’t last as it ends in a mess of seriously annoying sound effects and distant howls, ending up sounding likeHalloween With The Muppets, rather than something to accompany Lair Of The White Worm. There is nothing extreme or devastating going on here despite what any press package may claim, but I’ll give ‘em one thing: They’re consistent if nothing else.

It won’t kill you to try this out, but you won’t want to kill when it’s over, and that’s a huge let-down. It’s a lesson to never let your expectations get the best of you after reading a well-worded promo kit, and it just amazes me that even with a pedigree such as this, Nunfuckritual is one of the most dreadfully boring projects I’ve heard in ages. There’s only so many ways to describe ‘dull’, and I doubt many year-end lists will be thrown into shambles if this manages to pass you by, and as far as the effect this will have on the black metal scene goes, I have a feeling this will be a short-lived endeavor for its members.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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