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The Ritual Fires of Abandonment

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Album Review

One thing is clear about Chicago's metal four-piece Minsk almost from the start — while their future peers spent their formative years playing Metallica and Slayer albums to death, these guys were probably having their minds blown by early Neurosis records. There are indeed a lot of similarities between Minsk and Neurosis — relatively slow tempos, thick sludgy guitar sound, the vocalist's throaty screams, monumental song lengths. However, Minsk are far from being mere copycats; besides sonic similarities they also inherited Neurosis' creative restlessness and tendency to explore all the possibilities within their trademark sound, the very qualities that made those Oakland titans such an influential band. The Ritual Fires of Abandonment, Minsk's Relapse debut, is nothing short of epic, a one-hour journey that's alternately gripping, haunting, mesmerizing, and intimidating. Album opener "Embers" starts things off on a slow and mysterious note, riding a thick groove of tribal drums, dense atmospherics, and echoing chant-like vocals, and by the time guitars quake in, some time after the four-minute mark, the listener is already lured into their twisted and dangerous sonic maze. Throughout The Ritual Fires of Abandonment Minsk smartly alternate between shorter, more straightforward songs like the furious "White Wings" or "Circle of Ashes," and huge epic numbers which ebb and flow for more than a dozen minutes. There's an occasional curveball, too — a sudden oasis of calm amidst the chaos in the form of ambient instrumental "Mescaline Sunrise," or a totally unexpected saxophone solo popping up when colossal mid-way number "The Orphans of Piety" grinds to a near halt some ten minutes in. Bandmember Sanford Parker provides production ideally suited to the band's modus operandi — it's grand and appropriately murky yet richly layered and detailed. There is also a strong sense of mysticism running through the record, but not of the common Dungeons and Dragons variety that makes musicians far above the voting age wear strange outfits, sing songs about immortal warriors with flaming swords, and put pictures of said warriors (and swords) on their album covers. Rather, it's something more somber, some menacing and darkly romantic edge that makes Minsk's deafening rumble almost esoteric. If Dillinger Escape Plan can be hailed as something like Radiohead for the current crop of thinking man's metal, then in Minsk this intriguing and multi-faceted bunch can eventually obtain their own Dead Can Dance.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Although they borrow their moniker from the capital city of the country of Belarus, Minsk actually hail from Peoria, IL, of all places, where the bandmembers began working on demos circa 2002, inspired by a cross section of ancient doom and futuristic post-metal that was growing quite popular at the time thanks to the emergence of groups like Isis, Cult of Luna, and Rwake. For Minsk, distinction from the pack would emanate from their unusually percussive approach, a consequence of the complex interplay...
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The Ritual Fires of Abandonment, Minsk
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