Ruim - Black Royal Spiritism - I. O Sino da Igreja
Peaceville Records
Black Metal
8 songs (46:57)
Release year: 2023
Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat

Much missed from Mayhem since his departure in 2008, guitarist Rune "Blasphemer" Eriksen has kept himself busy with working in Nader Sadek's self-titled project as well as being an important part of gothic doomsters Ava Inferi alongside wife Carmen Susana Simões. Yet since Ava Inferi wrapped up in 2013 there hasn't been a project that led with his contributions (the reincarnated Aura Noir hopefully soon to prove that wrong!) and we've greatly missed his black metal work. Hence Ruïm; an alteration of a Portugues word meaning 'bad' and a project that sounds more than a little like a resumption of Blasphemer's work with Mayhem circa the 2000/2010s. This easy touchstone isn't helped by his decision to stick a cover of Fall of Seraphs late in the tracklisting! And a lot of the album does sound like Mayhem, for better or worse.

Starting with the worse, the unsettlingly boring ten-minute-plus opener Blood.Sacrifice.Enthronement fades in with sinister whispers before galloping blackened thrash riffs and dramatic backing synths begin what sounds like an exciting way to start proceedings. Yet after two or so minutes of something that could have been cut from the Ordo Ad Chao sessions, instead it fades into silence and the start of a lengthy near-ambient interlude with directionless strums and odd percussion. The listener is left adrift, wondering where things are headed for a large chunk of the running time, missing the much higher energy opening of the song, which makes great use of Blasphemer's undeniable guitar skills and surprisingly Csihar-esque snarled vocals, not to mention sticksman César Vesvre, who definitely makes up for Hellhammer's absence with his undeniably diverse and interesting drum performance across the album.

Although the closing section brings things back to life with a solid attempt at a more ritualistic, experimental take on the Mayhemic sound, overall the track is a dud that should have been put at the end of the tracklisting if not left off altogether. Fortunately, things soon improve with The Triumph (Of Night & Fire) which begins with a slower, more intense groove, feeling more like Moonspell than Mayhem, before speeding up enjoyably to hit that Psywar-esque tempo. The Black House continues the theme with the addition of some effective clean singing, very doomy and despairing, yet it's the relative brutality of Evig Dissonans, considerably pumping up the intensity, which really sticks with you, taking the Mayhem riffing and giving it thrashy power.

The aforementioned Fall of Seraphs cover is solid enough, particularly with guest vocalist Proscripter McGovern's yowls atop, yet it still feels unnecessary except for Blasphemer to lay claim to his former band's spiritual heritage, and tie it in with this new project. Much better, and interesting, are the closing duo Ao Rio, a far more effective ambient piece that acts as intro to O Sino da Igreja. Here, we have the kind of dramatic culmination to the album that it deserves, churning guitars and sinister vocals keeping the Mayhem link without making it feel like a studio outtake from them, and pushing Blasphemer's considerable talents forward to something new. Apparently this is the first album of a trilogy; let's hope that Ruïm has more to say than a repetition of past glories.

Killing Songs :
The Triumph (Of Night & Fire), Evig Dissonans, O Sino da Igreja
Goat quoted 70 / 100
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