Hour Of 13 The Ritualist

Released independently almost a year ago, many traditional doom metal fans have had ample opportunity to ingest this latest work from one-man concept/two-man effort Hour of 13, the brainchild of musician Chad Davis, as accompanied by vocalist Philip Swanson. The Ritualist's ability to mine a few unnoticed nuggets from the obvious (both Ozzy and Dio-era Black Sabbath, Possessed, et al.) is amusingly gripping. Moreover, with enough Southern twang in his voice and a hauntingly perfect delivery, Swanson manages to create an eerie twist on many of the album's tracks, creating a layer that rides over Davis's rich chords and monolithic rhythms with ease. Still, the album is not without obsessive wankery, dragging some songs well past their point of appreciation. Tunes such as closers "Evil Inside" and "The Crawlspace" have their moments, but could benefit from some trimming. That said, thanks to some inventive structures, effective use of hammering chug riffs and lush chords, as well as Swanson's Candlemass-ish voice, The Ritualist proves there is life in, and a reason for, another revisit so soon after its debut. (Nuclear Blast)