North Carolina based doom band Hour Of 13 have wasted no time in building a name for themselves on the underground scene. “The Ritualist” is their first album for Earache records and has already caused waves of excitement since its release. The band had a core duo in Chad Davis and Phil Swanson, but added John Mode (bass), Brandon Munday (guitar) and Dave Easter (drums) to tour this album, and these additions seem to be a permanent fixture.
‘The Gathering’ opens the album and at just over two minutes is the shortest song on the album, title track ‘The Ritualist’ is the first real chance we get to hear guitarists Munday and founder member Davis (formerly of Father Befouled amongst others) create the melodies which continue throughout this release, and the clean sound of the solos complement the distorted main riffs so well, it is one of those albums that just sounds right.
The songs on “The Ritualist” average out roughly between five and six minutes, with the last track coming in at just less than nine minutes, but each song is unhurried and allowed to grow. The song fades out and the album finishes, and passes by a lot quicker than you would expect. The tempo is generally slow and heavy with only ‘Soldiers Of Satan’ really getting anywhere near mid paced. This is definitely an album to listen when winding down.
Much like the excellent “Opus Eponymous” by Ghost, this is an album that doesn’t just sound like an homage to albums of old, rather than a newly discovered classic from back in the day. Everything about this album has a feel of the old school. With the minimal production and bleak, occult obsessed lyrics combined with the now departed Phil Swanson’s vocals (which have been rightly likened to early Ozzy / Wino), they really have got it spot on with this album.
With the support of a label such as Earache behind them, this is a big chance for this band to take their music to a massive audience. With this quality of songwriting and musicianship, added to an undoubted love of the music they play, there is no reason why Hour Of 13 can’t make a big impression on the scene. A band and album that you may already know, due to the success that they have garnered from the underground scene, but if you haven’t heard them yet, I thoroughly recommend picking up a copy. Your life will be better for it.