Monday 6 March 2023

Håndgemeng - Ultraritual (Album Review)

Release Date: March 10th 2023. Record Label: Ripple Music. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Ultraritual: Tracklisting

 1.The Astronomer 04:45 2.Cro-Magnon VS Neanderthal 05:52 3.Visions In Fire 4.Temple of Toke 5.Ultraritual 6.Tales From The Thundra 7.Occulation of Mars


Sludge/Stoner RIffsters Håndgemeng release their new album Ultraritual on the mighty Ripple Music label and it's quite a gloriously hip and thunderous album with the band bringing a sense of Cosmic/Space Rock wonder to the album. However, Hangmadeng bring a sense of Blackened Rock and Roll into the mix with a vibrant and melodic Psychedelic Doom energy that sees the band venture into Ambient and Post-Rock textures for this album.

Imagine if KVELERTAK decided to play more Spaced Out jams with a Progressive Sludge/Stoner Metal attitude .That's what you got with Ultraritual and the album still allows Håndgemeng every opportunity to play their own style of original music with that subtle style of Blackened RAWK N ROLL and Psychedelic Cosmic/Sonic sounds leading the way.

Håndgemeng show their true creative colours on the turbo-charged opening song of The Astronomer that offers Motorhead fast paced bombastic riffs and Kvelertak hardcore metallic vocals but the band come into their own when the Spaced Out attitude of the album appears and allows Håndgemeng to play their own original sound. There's a slight Hardcore vibe to the song that works surprisingly well especially when the band switches to a more riff based delivery on the later stages of the song.

Second song Cro-Magnon VS Neanderthal carries on with the blissfully heavy BLACKENED SLUDGE RAWK style with Hangmadeng wisely adding small elements of Ambient and Psychedelic movements. The song almost comes with a bleak Desert Rock vibe but the harsher underground elements soon appear and Håndgemeng just play an exciting and never-ending style of great sounds that almost touch upon mainstream influences. The subtle use of harsh grooves is the standout part of the track and for the majority of the album especially when the band inject Ambient textures into the mix with a Sludge/Doom Metal backdrop allowing them to play intense strands of melodic, moody and atmospheric music.

Third song Visions In Fire has an almost Occult Doom influence especially with the vocals but the swirling guitar solos warn the listener that heavier and harsher moments are vastly approaching. Håndgemeng then play a classic style of Hard Rock, Sludge Metal and Stoner Metal with that Cosmic/Sonic energy dictating the action. The song can be quite cold and dense in places but it's the sheer bravado from Håndgemeng that make this one of the most inventive tracks on the album. The song becomes more METALLIC and HARDCORE based but the gloomy vocals and trippy atmospherics bring a more forceful nature to the band's music. 

Fourth Song Temple Of Toke is the most WEEDIAN inspired track on the album which you can tell from the title of the track and the excellent lyrics the band have written for this song. Perhaps taking a more FUZZED UP style of 90's based Stoner Metal with a muscular style of down-tuned Psychedelic energy. The song has a more rebellious streak which Håndgemeng plays to perfection. This is perhaps what KYUSS would sound like if they were plagued by BLACK METAL nightmares. This is one of the standout tracks on the album and the use of different styles of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is just a joy to listen to.

Ultraritual sees Håndgemeng continue on their COSMIC and SPACED OUT journey with mighty WEEDIAN ideas coming into play. The album is always at it's best when Hangmadeng are mixing different sounds and themes together for an unrelentless and unforgiving style of music especially on songs such as: Ultraritual, Tales From The Thundra and Occulation Of Mars. The record comes more experimental with the final two songs of Tales From The Tundra and Occulation Of Mars. 

Stunning Ambient soundscapes with the harsh Sludge/Stoner Metal movements appear but there's a more restrained creative journey being used especially on Occulation Of Mars which has first-rate vocals throughout. The song sees Håndgemeng take some pretty big and bold risks but luckily it all works. The final song may leave the album on a more quieter note but it's a wonderful song packed full of emotion and haunting sounds that leave you wanting to hear more of that kind of music from the band.

Ultraritual is an album that pulls no punches with the creative choices that the band delivers here. This is also a bold decision by Ripple Music to release something different from their acclaimed and iconic roster. This album is destined to become a cult favourite for the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal underground scene and it's not hard to see why.

This is an incredible album that is bound to become a serious contender for Album Of The Year. It's seriously that good. I'm hoping these guys SOAR to greater heights within the underground scene over the next year or so.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Purple Sage PR for the promo.

Ultraritual will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via via Ripple Music (USA) and Ripple Music (EU) from March 10th 2023.


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