Ritual Divination by Here Lies Man

Release date: January 22, 2021
Label: Ridingeasy Records

It’s now album number four for LA band Here Lies Man who have brought the idea of what would it sound like if Tony Iommi’s inspired riffage collided head on with Tony Allen’s Afrobeat rhythms. In other words, big fuzzy rock drenched riffs being served by danceable rhythms to make standing still an impossible reaction. There have been many bigger and more famous bands over the years who have stuck to their familiar comfortable grounds throughout entire career, but one does wonder how much longer can the band – formed by members of Afrobeat outfit Antibalas – keep collecting from this well before it dries up?

Fortunately, Ritual Divination proves that for eleven out of the fifteen tracks there is still plenty of riffs and rhythmic stylings still to be explored. There isn’t any major sea change or progressive advancements on their sound, but they have honed and locked in their template for a fuzzily crafted, rhythmic induced enjoyable ramble. The atmosphere is a little bit heavier, the groove, groovier, which provides the backdrop for serving the melodies and what is now seemingly becoming another trademark; simple hummable chant along lyrics.

There is a touch less of the trance like grooving across the whole album, as each of R.D songs have a greater sense of their own self-contained song-writing embodiment. However, while this makes for a batch of songs to be more memorable, the groove is still the key to how this will either delight or repel. There is a slight scent of the riffs being slightly bluesy, but the distortion and fuzz remains the same.

For the first ten tracks the album rattles along at a relentless brisk pace with arguably some of their finest and heaviest tracks to date, ‘Can’t Kill It’, ‘Night Comes’, ‘Run Away Children’, ‘Come Inside’, ‘Collector of Vanities’ all contain nuclear fueled energy and amphetamine popping dancefloor purpose. While the enjoyable ‘I Wander’ has its roots in the style of a number-of 1970’s T.V theme tunes.

However, the standout goes to ‘I Told You (You Shall Die)’, a culmination of all their sums meeting head on perfectly. It’s Here Lies Man at their most danceable while the thick heavy atmosphere is at its best with the fore-warning final curtain call of ”you shall die’’ on repeat. The song’s stunning final act is the horn/brass section taking centre stage that recalls the ending of MC5’s ‘Sister Anne’, and the image of a brass band bursting through the studio’s doors to march through the recording session.

The first ten tracks whiz by like a tornado groove laden rock storm. Thereafter, the following four tracks don’t really add too much to proceedings. It left me hoping for a curveball to be thrown in to head off any fear of repetitive strain. And they do indeed and more, on the album closer ‘Cutting Through The Tether’, which offers a shift in direction which may be the most telling as to where the Here Lies Man future may have instore. Calling time on the guitars and shifting influence to evoke the might of Can (specifically Hellujalah), the beat indeed goes on, but droning organ, and additional layers of keys provide hints of an interesting path for further potential exploration.

Ritual Divination is still one band under the addicted thrills of losing yourself to danceable grooves. This is essentially Here Lies Man perfecting their core sound to deliver arguably their most realised album yet. But, with the closing track’s hint of where the future may hold, I will expect album number five to journey further beyond their so far familiar terrain, because it would be a shame if they became a one trick pony.

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