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Ruïm and the powerful Black Metal of Black Royal Spiritism – I-O Sino da Igreja

Ruïm were formed in 2020 by Norwegian-born, Grammy award-winning guitarist Blasphemer (Rune Eriksen – Vltimas and Mayhem), who now resides in Portugal. He will be unleashing his debut album of “Triumphant Black Metal Supremacy” this month under the title of Black Royal Spiritism – I-O Sino da Igreja. For this release, he is joined by French-born drummer CSR (César Vesvre – Agressor, Thagirion), who currently lives in Dijon. The restrictions of Covid-19 didn’t make the travelling to rehearse/record particularly easy, especially as the album was then recorded at Drudenhaus Studio close to Nantes in France, but a creative artist always finds a way.

Ruïm – Black Royal Spiritism – I-O Sino da Igreja (Peaceville Records)

Release Date: 26 May 2023

Words: Jools Green

The idea and inspiration came from multiple sources, a desire to revisit the style of music he has dedicated himself to and been associated with since the mid-’90s, namely Black Metal, the rediscovery of a long-lost tape of old, unused Mayhem-era riffs from 98/99, with musical and lyrical inspiration coming from Brazilian witchcraft and the left-hand path of the Umbanda tradition, of which Blasphemer has been a practitioner for over ten years, aiming to create something unique by incorporating this lore and practice into Black Metal, rather than the usual paths taken by most Black Metal bands.

As well as covering the guitars and bass on this release Blasphemer also covers all the vocals, delivered in a mix of English, Portuguese and Norwegian, with lyrical themes rooted in a celebration and dedication to the lore and rituals of linha da esquerda.

Blasphemer - Photo: Mara D'Eleán
Blasphemer – Photo: Mara D’Eleán

The eight-track Black Royal Spiritism – I-O Sino da Igreja is a commandingly powerful listen, not just for the lyrical content and inspirational quality but also for the delivery. I love the riffing style. It’s strong and dark, erring on the brink of brutal, made all the more so by its contrast against the more ambient reflective passages, which still manage to maintain darkness, and that ties it all together.

Vocally it’s impressive, too. The raw, blackened, harsh vocals have an acidic edge, in contrast to the reflective cleans and spoken elements. Although there are three languages used here, the majority is English, but whichever language a particular track is in, it still remains consistently powerful and impactful. CSR’s drum work is applied with great creativity, with some superb fills and patterns, but never overpowering, always just enough to add depth, texture and impact.

Opening on the ten-minute monster, Blood Sacrifice Enthronement, which builds tantalisingly, firstly quiet whispers and atmospheric sounds, gradually building with the arrival of guitars and drum work. When it hits home, it hits hard, the vocals, drums and guitarwork engulfing you, then ebbing back to an eerier reflective mood and transiting throughout between the two, but whichever phase it’s in, it remains pitch black to the core.

At the beginning of The Triumph (Of Night Fire), Blasphemer has exercised his artistic liberty and incorporated words and sentences from some of the hymns, contrived and composed for the left-hand path of the Umbanda. Usually sung in Portuguese/Brazilian, this keeps some of the tradition in this track, and it works superbly, especially when followed by that brutal driving guitar style and acidic vocals.

With On The Black House, I love how the eerie opener builds into a brutal and intense drive that undulates and ebbs along with well-punctuated drum rhythms. The cleans are stunningly sinister, and it’s lyrically fascinating too.

Black Royal Spiritualism has a different mood again, haunting and reflective, with wonderfully protracted raw vocals and a subtle undercurrent of melody and complex but not overpowering drum work. The build is gradual and subtle, and the wave from the powerful crush of the riffs is upon you before you realise, but it’s also very textured with a very fluid, continual ebb and build.

Evig Dissonans stands out as it’s the only song sung in Norwegian. A nod to Blasphemer’s heritage and a beautiful language for Black Metal, it is far more descriptively poetic than people often give it credit for. It is set to a backdrop of brutal driving but ever-changing riffs that have, at times, an engagingly dissonant feel.

Fall Of Seraphs packs a punch from the offset with pounding rhythms and driving riffs that together really deliver a punch, but when it ebbs back, its sublimely dark with very traditional-styled Black Metal riffs and superbly acidic, scathing vocals. The ebb and build across the track is magnificently menacing. A track with a very classic quality.

In complete contrast, Ao Rio is haunting and reflective and the vocals clean and contemplative, making a very calm and spiritual piece.

Final piece O Sino da Igreja brings the album to a close with one last round of superbly expressive, menacing vocals, unnerving laughter and brutal driving riffs, with haunting jangling guitar elements dropped in for maximum impact along with searing closing leadwork. A magnificently unnerving yet engaging piece to end on.

Black Royal Spiritism – I.O Sino da Igreja is a superb offering, so well thought out and so full of power and energy and is also, I’m delighted to say. Planned to be the first of a trilogy, exploring and incorporating a deeply personal expression of Blasphemer’s own beliefs regarding the greater spirits of the left-hand path, I look forward to hearing more from this project. As Black Metal albums go, this ticks all the boxes.

Black Royal Spiritism – I.O Sino da Igreja will be released on Peaceville Records on 26 May on CD/LP and Limited edition gold-coloured vinyl, as well as digitally and through the usual streaming services.

Pre-orders are available now from here: https://RUIM.lnk.to/BRS.

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