Ramesses - Misanthropic Alchemy (re-release)
Ritual Productions
Disc 1: 9 songs (1:02:13) Disc 2: 9 songs (1:11:17)
Release year: 2013
Ritual Productions
Reviewed by Goat

After the sad news that ex-Electric Wizard doom-mongers Ramesses have split up, this comes as something of a consolation prize for fans of the little-known but highly-regarded trio. A re-release of their debut album with added bonuses in the form of rare EPs and live tracks, Misanthropic Alchemy is a solid blackened monolith of doom that will please your ears immensely. As fans will be aware, Ramesses play a particularly underground and gnarly sort of doom, wrapped up in black metal's occult cloak and dipped into a dank and grimy form of sludge, and it's at its darkest and dankest here. Taking the CDs in turn, the first containing the original Misanthropic Alchemy album from 2007, Ramesses – Part I storms in like an upbeat Hellhammer, all battering drums and crushing riffs, leading to the slower and long Ramesses – Part III. This is where things get truly doomy, the song crawling and groovy like a zombified Electric Wizard, the first clean vocals rising out of the fuzz. It's all about the swampy harshness, however, the throaty growl of Adam Richardson fitting the music far better than his Osbornian wail. Yet whichever he uses, from that moment on the music only seems to get slower and darker, Lords Misrule a dying shuffle at first before gaining an additional dose of life and perking into a stoner-y gallop.

After that, the relatively melodic opening to Coat of Arms could well have you checking that you've not changed albums by mistake! Yet one of Ramesses' main strengths is – was – their ability to bring together various strains of doom under a single roof and make it cohesive. Despite not having perfected their style yet, they do so very well indeed here. It's somewhat tempting to call Ramesses the Megadeth to Electric Wizard's Metallica, and certainly as a debut album Misanthropic Alchemy is positively seething with anger – not the snotty anger of a young Mustaine on Killing Is My Business, perhaps, but it's easy to see a similar fury wielded in Ramesses' hands. Doom being doom, the anger is shot through with sorrow, yet even here the band prove themselves capable of simply getting over it; tracks like Terrordactyl, with its classic horror sample and ominous striding riffage, or the psychedelic bleakness of Before the Jackals, are more than proof that what you're listening to is simply kickass doom. Sure, outro Earth Must Die is a bit self-indulgent in its repetitiousness, but you get two very good live tracks as bonuses, and you're still only halfway through this package deal!

The second CD consists of EPs The Tomb and We Will Lead You To Glorious Times from 2005, together with The Glorious Dead from the band's 2009 vinyl split with Unearthly Trance. Both EPs are excellent, showing off a slightly rawer version of the band with a nastier, almost blackened snarl from Richardson. The eight-minute Witchhampton and the eleven-minute Black Domina are the slow, sludgy churners for the first set of songs, others like Master Your Demons fitting a more typical stoner-y template – or would if not for little touches like added blastbeats, moments of urgent madness in the midst of the general doom squalor being enormously effective. The second half of the CD consists of the likes of Cult of Cyclops, sludgy, clattering doom trudgers that manage to raise the hair on your neck with sheer viciousness. Like the rest of the tracks, it holds your attention well and shows the band's prowess with songwriting off as much as it does their prowess at doom. As a whole, this is a tremendous re-release that does its job well; mourning the loss of one of Britain's most underrated doom bands with an excellent sending-off. Here's to the members' future projects, in hope they're as half as good as Ramesses were.

Killing Songs :
Ramesses Part III, Terrordactyl, Before the Jackals, Master Your Demons, Cult of Cyclops
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Ramesses that we have reviewed:
Ramesses - Possessed By The Rise Of Magik reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Ramesses - Take The Curse reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
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