The first two songs on Northern Ireland doomsters Nomadic Rituals' new album Tides describe a voyage to outer space -- the ultimately doomed Cassini-Huygens probe and its one-way-ticket to Saturn. In the end, what destroyed it was gravity: as it executed a final set of maneuvers to gather valuable data, it entered the gas giant's atmosphere and succumbed to the whirlwind of forces within. The album itself functions similarly: once contact is established, there's little chance of breaking free. We've streaming the full-length in full ahead of its Friday release -- dive in past the point of no return.

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After a rippling wave of noise to start things off, the initial approach is dazzling, with soft and strange melodies creating a sense of kaleidoscopic wonder. The deeper you go, however, the denser and more inescapable it becomes, even after the probe's saga concludes. Tides grows into a sludged-up inferno, gathering critical mass and abject rage as the intensity builds and the album's grip tightens. Although the riffs come on fairly quickly, the drumming behind them is stretched-out and sparse, such that each snare drum hit can feel like a surprise shockwave rather than a perpetual rhythmic event. Each song manages to cover a good amount of musical ground while still feeling mesmerizingly slow, boosted as well by the band's use of bizarre synths and heavy doses of low-end frequencies.

The harsh vocals, initially seeming out of place, start to make a lot of sense -- they're a reflection of the burbling madness on display, echoes of chorused sinister power that border on truly insane at some points.

Even at its heaviest, perhaps during the roaring chorus of "Tumulus," Tides balances its titanic impact against that initial feeling of amazement -- things are always a little foggy, a little mystical, drawing as much from psychedelic rock as bitter sludge. Like any good ritual -- and the term certainly applies here, not just because of the band's name -- it's worth letting the whole thing play out.

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Tides releases January 8th via Cursed Monk Records.


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