By: Johnnie Wade
Don’t let the boring album cover fool you, this album might just be Ritual Howls’ most exciting work to date. Ritual Howls released their fourth full-length Rendered Amor on Felte Records earlier this month. And while the album is similar to their previous works in terms of style in tone the band raises their music to new territories and introduces some new elements to their overall sound. For those in love with the cold, dark melodramatic sound that the band has established with their previous releases Rendered Amor will not disappoint. The three piece Detroit based band made up of Paul Bancell, Chris Samuels and Ben Saginaw have been releasing music since 2013. While it’s easy to lump them into the post punk dark wave revival with bands like Cold Cave and Soft Kill; it’s clear that Ritual Howls are moving beyond imitation and focusing more on elevation, pushing the boundaries of the genre to new levels.
The album’s first track Alone Together wraps a dark driving melody in a 80s tinged instrumentation complete with faint acoustic guitar, an eerie toy-keyboard sounding refrain grounded by Bancell’s baritone delivery. If you’re imagining a song by Echo and the Bunnymen or Nick Cave, you wouldn’t be far off. But Alone Together does more than simply leading the listener into the rabbit hole of Rendered Amor it establishes themes that will be explored lyrically and musically for the rest of the album. Though the concepts presented like love, loss of love and longing are all subjects that have been explored before, there’s something about the way that Ritual Howls approaches the themes that make them seem new. In the album the themes don’t just lay flat, buried in the songs through an array of metaphors and similes; instead Ritual Howls has constructed a dark atmospheric platform to support the themes. Making the concepts and the emotions associated with the theme tangible. Listeners melt into the longing and are swept away by the sense of loss and darkness.
Rendered Amor shows a band that’s completely comfortable within their sound without coming off as boring or formulated. As a band they were able to produce an album that keeps old fans intrigued and that will definitely capture the ears and hearts of new fans. Ritual Howls will be touring with The Faint this Summer to support the new album.