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Dea Marica : Ritual of the Banished

You're longing for dark, brooding Trad. Doom that could make the bridge with Death Doom? Check out Dea Marica, you'll be in for a treat.

Since the release of 'False Mystical Prose' by Gallow God, I've kept an eye on that band, awaiting their next offering with a mixture of curiosity and excitement. I believe great things can come from them, almost a syncretic proposition, a reconciliation between two schools of thought often depicted as irreconcilable. Gallow God had succeeded in making Doom Death Slow Death, as they say and Trad Doom co-exist. Honestly, if I had to recommend one Trad Doom band to a Doom Death fan, without hesitation, it'd be Gallow God in the first place (there are other bands which don't care about stylistic borders: Grove, Murkrat, Temple of Pain, but admittedly, those who dare mock the codes are very scarce).

But unfortunately, there's nothing new to be heard, currently, from Gallow God. Then comes a new band: Dea Marica. And they present themselves as an outgrowth of Gallow God. So, I'm finding myself in the position of a spectator expecting to see the starring actor he loves tumbling out on stage and finding out he's gone missing and that his body double will have to play the part instead. A bit disappointing, but rather exciting too. What will he come up with? How will he sound?

Now that the show is over, I can say he sounded good and that Dea Marica are more than a bracket in Gallow God's career. The band was formed in 2009 by Riccardo Veronese, guitarist in Gallow God, and Chris Takka; it was born out of Riccardo's urge to release new songs as Gallow God's sophomore was taking a lot of time to get to completion and some ideas of Riccardo's had been dismissed. And, as you might grumble if your colleague did a task for you but you were dissatisfied with the result: "If you want it done right, you've got to do it yourself."

Dea Marica do sound as dark and thoughtful as Gallow God. The soundscapes those two bands haunt are quite the same: it's crushing like a stone shroud, emotional like the funeral of a beloved one, slow like a current of viscid mud. But there's a major difference: the vocals. It's a clean, fragile and a bit out-of-tune male voice with a heavy Italian accent (well, that's my guess anyway - as Roberto Mura, the singer, has a very Italian-sounding name). I know some have been put off by his phrasing, but although you can't say he's a great, accomplished singer, his melodious lines, whose rough edges bear a feeling of bleakness and despair, totally match the oppressive despondency conveyed by the band's music. His technical modesty is strongly counterbalanced by the boldness he shows in his modulations, playing with different tones, from the lowest he goes as far as to growl on 'Balefire' where Doom Death meets Trad Doom to the highest of his vocal range (his wailing lines sound pretty good on the dramatic 'The Silence of the Shore') . It's strange when considered: had he been better, more skillful, more impressive which he is not, definitely the whole scenery of piercing despair, patiently built through funerary evocations, suggestive morbid atmospheres, romantic decay would simply not work as well. That voice is like a tired flag waving in the wind at the top of a crumbling building; dirty and torn on the edges, it's the sincere expression of the miserable doom Dea Marica strives to express.

The album works well as a whole; it is surprising though that growls are used only once, on the first track. If I had to give the band a piece of advice, it would be to have more confidence in them. Trust the growls: they can open the doors to enthralling grounds. For the rest, Dea Marica show excellent songwriting skills and each of those five consistent tracks are full of variations, enough interesting twists and turns to make each new listen an enticing experience.

About the production work, one could say that, again, this isn't very powerful or polished, that it lacks clarity. I say: it's all for the best! It's warm and crispy and allows for each element to find its due place in the compositions. Dea Marica are already working on a third album when the second one isn't even out yet. Well, that urge for music I was speaking of seems inexhaustible. Good for us who love both Trad and Extreme Doom: that band is able to consolidate the bridge between two continents that continue to give each other the cold shoulder.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Balefire
2. The Wild Hunt
3. Dea Marica
4. The Silence of the Shore
5. Ritual of the Banished

Duration : Approx. 41 minutes

Visit the Dea Marica bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-09-05 by Bertrand Marchal
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