A while has passed since I reviewed the debut demo of Ridere Deus. The one-man project has since morphed into a three-headed unit, but not much else has changed with the project that's now presenting us their second demo of Nordic black metal coldness.
I had quite some expectations based on the amount of personality and zeal that RD's debut demo emitted, and I was not let down. What the six songs (one of the songs is an acoustic interlude) present is best described as Nordic black metal, as mentioned above, and the music is indeed traditional-sounding and doesn't strive for any out-of-the-box innovations. Yet, the band can (and should!) be proud of what it presents, for all of the songs have their own personality and ways of standing out from the others.
Ridere Deus seems to have a rather clear vision of what they're aiming for. The songs are raw and simplistic, but carry enough of a melodic undercurrent to keep them interesting and to keep away from the most monotonal and basic formulas. The soundscape is rather primitive and messy; the drums are loud and their cymbals sharply splashing, the guitar distortion is really raw but not buzzy, and the bass (as expected) mostly lays beneath the other instruments just to give some mass to the band's sound. The vocals are really hoarse and sharp shouts and screams, which have a lot of personality and suit the music perfectly. Some lower growls are heard in the background here and there, which is something that the band might want to take into further use compositionally.
It seems that the drum tracks have been recorded in various sessions, as on some tracks they're really loud and sharp, whereas other times they're more damp and quiet. This bothers me a bit, but on the other hand one has to keep in mind that this is a demo recording. This is the same reason why I don't really mind the here and there slightly fumbling musicianship - along with the fact that I have a preference for this kind of primitive and less-than-absolutely precise approach anyway.
The lyrical themes are fairly traditional, too, but have a pleasingly personal take on the topics of anti-christianity and the darker side of man.
Long story short: the band has room for improvement sound- and playing-wise, but if you're into cold and raw black metal with some melody, there's a chance that you'll find this demo just perfect. It is fairly traditional and the soundscape has some demo-like qualities, but once you get past those, there isn't a lot to complain about.
I hope RD's next record will be a more fully thought-out, "detailed" and coherent piece of black metal, as they have good chances of leaving the demo-scene behind them for good. The group is certainly on the right tracks.