Review: Briton Rites – Occulte Fantastique

Release: 2020/12/18

Briton Rites is an US American doom metal band which was founded in 2006. Four years later, the trio released its debut album For Mircalla. Even though they received very positive feedback from critics and fans, Briton Rites didn’t break through – and finally split up in 2014. Fortunately, the band reunited last year in order to work on its second longplayer. To keep it short, it was a good decision.

Occulte Fantastique is a solid record that is highly recommended for every fan of early Black Sabbath – and traditional doom in general. Nevertheless, also people who mainly go for stoner rock/doom should check this album out. Phil Swanson (vocals), Howie Bentley (guitars, vocals), John Leeson (bass) and Corbin King (drums) provide extremely heavy stuff which is definitely able to break your neck. As I said, Briton Rites mixes different styles – the most important ingredient is undoubtedly doom, but classic heavy metal plays an important role as well. I’m quite sure that there’ll be some doomheads who won’t appreciate the rather high pace of the song material.

One of the strenghts of this outfit are the wonderful vocals of Phil Swanson. The Sumerlands and ex-Atlantean Kodex singer often reminds me of Ozzy – it’s obvious that 70s Black Sabbath was a great source of inspiration for Briton Rites, not only in this regard. However, Swanson doesn’t sound like one of the countless Ozzy clones out there, his voice is quite unique, and it fits perfectly with the heavy, fuzzy guitars that dominate this longplayer. You won’t find a bad track on it but you have to invest some time because you really can’t classify Occulte Fantastique as catchy. If you urge me to point out a weak point, I would talk about the uniformity of the eight songs – they really could be a bit more varied. Having said this, I’d like to emphasize that despite this I enjoy Briton Rite’s output very much, every time I put it on.

In summary, the US Americans celebrate their comeback with a great record at the intersection of doom and heavy metal, with a sprinkle of stoner. If you appreciate Master of Reality or younger bands like Acid Mammoth, for instance, you’ll definitely dig this, no doubt about it. In my opinion, you should start with «Strange But Beautiful» because this track deserves the label «highlight»: here you get great old school doom riffing, amazing vocal lines and an intense atmosphere which gives you goosebumps. After listening to this number, you’ll press the «buy button», for sure.

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