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Alternative & Indie - Released March 22, 2019 | felte

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As their album titles suggest, textures are vitally important to Ritual Howls' music. Turkish Leather telegraphed the rough sensuality and dusty drama of its songs, while Into the Water hinted at the cold depths of their third album. Rendered Armor's title is just as evocative of the streamlined, hard-edged sound of the trio's fourth full-length. This aesthetic is most pronounced on "Love Cuts," where the band's love of crushing industrial beats comes to the fore, but it also extends to "Thought Talk," a gloomy, kinetic standout that delivers a subtler -- but still very danceable -- version of their music. Despite the restraint they show on Rendered Armor, they still play with a range of sounds and moods. "Alone Together" begins the album by paring their music down to the bare essentials of a spiky drum pattern and a twangy guitar riff; the recriminations of "Mother of the Dead" are so stark that they border on coldwave; and the way Ritual Howls elevate the whispery menace of "I Can Hear Your Tears" with unusual percussion, including bongos, reaffirms that they are much more eclectic than might be expected. Occasionally, they do unleash all of their drama, most strikingly on "The Offering," where spaghetti western guitars and sighing synths provide the perfect complement to the relentless beats, and on the finale, "All I've Known," which may be the closest they've come to a pop song (albeit a pitch-black one) yet. As Ritual Howls incorporate different shades and kinds of darkness into their music, Rendered Armor proves they grow more authoritative with each release. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2017 | felte

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 19, 2016 | felte

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Just as Turkish Leather smoothed some of the edges off of Ritual Howls' self-titled debut, Into the Water further refines the band's sound, allowing them to discover some new shades of black along the way. The newfound control they bring to their atmospheric death rock is most apparent on the album's poppiest songs: The darkly catchy "Park Around the Corner" is one of many showcases for Paul Bancell's commanding vocals, while "Nervous Hands" is gloriously doomy ("From painted lips/Words are spoken" is a lyric so quintessentially goth it's a wonder it hasn't been written already). "Scatter the Scars" is one of Ritual Howls' finest songs yet, a shadowy, slinky invocation that recalls the band's '80s and '90s forebears as well as Two Lone Swordsmen's electro-billy period in its mix of brittle beats and spectral slide guitars. This otherworldly twang gives Into the Water an edge that's as surprising as it is welcome on songs such as "Bound by Light," where it makes for a striking contrast with the track's industrial beat. While the catchier songs are so strong that it's tempting to say Ritual Howls should focus on them alone, Into the Water also serves as a reminder of how good they are at plumbing eldritch depths on the swampy "Coils and Magnets" or the nine-minute finale "Going Upstate," which uses their fondness for found sounds and sampling in particularly dread-inspiring fashion. Here and throughout Into the Water, Ritual Howls balance mood and melody so ably, it's clear they've discovered how to put the evil in evolution. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 1, 2019 | felte

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 1, 2019 | felte

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 24, 2016 | felte

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 15, 2016 | felte

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 24, 2016 | felte

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