What we're talking of now is a demo's worth of doom-influenced death metal. "Ritual of the Horned Skull" is the debut release of the relatively young Finnish band. After seeing the cover artwork I assumed that the release will be pretty oldschool, and I wasn't all wrong as you can hear the oldschool-influences in the band's music, both in a good and a bad way.

Luckily the overall sound isn't too oldschool, although it ain't no modern clinical shit either. It's a good-quality soundscape for a demo release. But, onwards to the songs themselves. The band plays slow death metal that doesn't exactly offer any surprises. The riffs bear a death-stench and come accompanied by growled vocals. The musicians come off as capable, and the dark riffs are boosted through some melody in the form of a few fairly good solos. Even so, the band doesn't seem to get their music to lift off at any point, and the end result sounds too even, almost lazy.

Solothus sticks tight to the death/doom-expression, and the tempos don't pick up speed at any point. I was left hoping for some more variation in the tempos and comping. Oh, and one more notion about the vocalist. His low growled dirt is decent, but the vocals start to sound monotonal and eventually very boring when the demo's end approaches.

As a summary I'd say that "Ritual of the Horned Skull" is a well-executed debut demo. If the band dares to be less genre-faithful and invests more effort in bringing some variation into the tempos and vocals, I'd believe Solothus could be a great death metal band in their future.

2 / 5