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Hour of 13: Black Magick Rites

Black Magick Rites is the fourth full-length release from the American metal band Hour of 13. It’s their first since 2012’s 333, and also the first to feature founding member and mainstay Chad Davis on all instruments and vocals. The album can be classified as doom metal broadly speaking, with elements of black and traditional metal sprinkled in.

For me, the album is a step down from their previous releases. While none of the seven songs is overly long, most ranging between five and eight minutes, several overstay their welcome. Also, although there is no denying that Davis is a gifted soloist, some of his solos seem less well integrated within the songs than on previous releases, especially on the opening few tracks. His riffing, though, remains strong and familiar.

Davis has been the vocalist on a few EPs and singles released since 333. He employs a broader range than Phil Swanson, the primary vocalist on all previous full-length albums. At times, this is a welcome change. Swanson sang in a consistently lower pitch, although one got the sense that he had the capacity to stretch out more if he had wanted. While Davis is certainly a competent vocalist, Swanson’s vocals better fit the music of Hour of 13. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the album are the occult-themed lyrics, which are nothing new for the band, but this time around many of them come across as forced and overdone.

The album is certainly not without merit, however. I suspect that many listeners will find it good meat and potatoes metal. The standout tracks, in my opinion, are the closing two songs, “Harvest Night” and “The Mystical Hall of Dreams,” both of which feature interesting tempo changes and some of Davis’ better vocals. The production is good and fits the style, although the drums are a little high in the mix at times.

I doubt I will play Black Magick Rites much, but given the strength of Hour of 13’s previous albums and Davis’ obvious skill as a multi-instrumentalist, I will be on the lookout for future releases. Perhaps featuring an outside lyricist next time.

Track Listing:
1. His Majesty of the Wood
2. Return from the Grave
3. House of Death
4. Black Magick Rites
5. Within the Pentagram
6. Harvest Night
7. The Mystical Hall of Dreams

Added: August 13th 2021
Reviewer: Aaron Steelman
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 476
Language: english

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