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It’s difficult to imagine metal existing without the electric guitar. The genre’s rich and harsh timbre, not to mention the fetishization of the riff as a unit of musical construction, center on guitars as an instrumental focal point. Godflesh successfully replaced acoustic drums with a drum machine without sacrificing the genre’s basic identity almost 30 years ago, but with few exceptions, bass-led metal variants remain rare. We have a feature-length examination of metal sans guitar in the pipeline, but for a current example look no further than Italy’s Riti Occulti. They play at the increasingly crowded intersection of doom metal and occult symbology. The tropes of this style are well hammered out by now, but by removing the guitar Riti Occulti open their midrange frequencies up. In that vacant space, wretched and sung vocals play without interference.

Listeners with an aversion to vibrato might find it all a bit much, because it is. Riti Occulti aren't afraid to reach for extremity and land in the absurd - they covered “Eleanor Rigby” once - but I applaud their boldness. It takes a musical abandon I envy to strip maybe the best Beatles song of its four part harmony - or to strip hot six-string pickup action from metal. Would that more bands exercised such open-mindedness.

Submitted as evidence, “Adonai I”, taken from their upcoming album, Tetragrammaton.

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Tetragrammaton will be released on October 7 via Triton’s Orbit. Follow Riti Occulti on Facebook.

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