Formicarius – Black Mass Ritual (Review)

The last time I encountered the UK’s Formicarius was back in December when they contributed a track Lake of the Dead to the excellent compilation Speed Kills VII. Back then I called them “very promising” and I’m glad to report that, with Black Mass Ritual, they have delivered on that promise and then some.

Formicarius go medievil on your ass with their debut album, dishing out Cradle of Filth-style symphonic metal with power metal exuberance. The whirling atmosphere, rib-cracking riffs and exotic solos sound like Mustaine and Friedman jamming with Emperor, the potent speed metal velocity, galloping bass and catchy choruses bring to mind early Helloween and there’s a folky bent to the riffs and instrumentation that reminds me of the classic Skyclad albums.

All the performances are outstanding, from Lord Saunders’ articulate Abbath-esque croak to Morath’s grand and eloquent keyboard embellishments and solos (check out the excellent outro piano on Overlord, a standout moment). The songwriting is also uniformly excellent. An overly jaunty riff in Abhorrent Feast of Minds is the only thing close to a mis-step and it’s soon forgiven as Master of Past and Present closes the album on a dark, dramatic high.

It’s a fantastic debut: rampaging, grand black metal with a healthy dose of epic tradition and fearless creativity. In a year where I’ve been mainly knocked out by death metal albums, Formicarius have struck a decisive blow for black metal. And they’ve done it with an album that is all kinds of metal fun for all kinds of metal fans. The Black Mass Ritual begins on July 21st, don’t miss out.

16 thoughts on “Formicarius – Black Mass Ritual (Review)”

  1. Not the kinda thing I could consume a lot of in a week, but there is some incredible playing on there. Absolutely no doubt about that. Right evil looking bunch, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The playing is the first thing that stood out to me with them. You don’t get a lot of guitar solos in BM. Any technicality is usually focussed into the riffs. Good to hear some proper soloing for a change!


    1. Folk and traditional music is quite common in black metal actually. Not in every band but there’s a lot of acts that use it. If you want folk in your metal then black is the way to go! (After Skyclad anyway… they are the big daddies of folk metal!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am completely not the guy who knows about these things, but listening to that track you posted and it sounds like this is several styles mashed together. You’re right about Megadeth and Cradle Of Filth, but there’s Ghost too… weird! Also fun! All at 100 mph! Go go go! Rarrrrghhh!! Wooo!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hooray! Guess confirmed! You know, you write about so many bands on here about which I know nothing (and thus I learn a ton), but Ghost I have in my collection so I could hear it enough to think “oh yeah… hey!…”

        Also, those vocals are something else. That guy must have really shredded vocals cords, forcing sounds like that out of his throat…

        Liked by 1 person

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