RIGORISM "Human Fear"

Russian Death Metal? Well thats different. Most of the bands coming out of Russia seem to be of the Power/Heavy Metal or Folk/Viking Metal variety, but not RIGORISM. With a moniker like that, one might expect something along the lines of CANNIBAL CORPSE or EXHUMED, but no, RIGORISM is a whole different animal, of the likes Ive never encountered before. Maybe the closest comparison could be some of the Greek bands like ROTTING CHRIST or SEPTIC FLESH, but RIGORISM still sounds nothing like them. The vocals are a trade-off of deep guttural growls and blackened growls, but the music is of a much more atmospheric bent, nearly sounding gothic in nature. There are times when the music comes in line with what is expected from a Death Metal band (especially those playing a groove-heavy style), but for the most part its mid-paced with interesting if not somewhat strange keyboards backing the whole thing up. Theres almost the feeling of some sort of macabre sideshow act permeated throughout RIGORISMs debut.

As for the songs themselves, RIGORISM plays them straight. Mostly operating at a mid-pace, the riffs are relatively simple and, at times, slightly on the militant side. The drumming is no-frills with some double-bass, a little blasting (very little, actually) and the occasional fill, but its mostly straight ahead and groove-oriented. The bass player does a few interesting things underneath the covers, especially on Some Words About Love, but mostly locks in with the rest of the rhythm section. But its those keyboards that are oh so different. Without those, Human Fear would be a relatively normal groove-based Death Metal album albeit with more atmosphere than what would be considered normal but they add a very unique touch that pushes RIGORISM apart from the crowd. As stated above, RIGORISM is a different beast than most, and that alone is worthy of attention. If the same ol, same ol in Death Metal has got you down, Human Fear is an album worthy of looking into. The songs are memorable without ever turning to commercial sensibilities, and the atmosphere is great and just a little creepy. This certainly isnt the best Death Metal out there, but its definitely some of the most original. Recommended.(7,5/10)

RIGORISM "Cold and Pain"

After having been at least mildly impressed by RIGORISMs debut, Human Fear, I was intrigued to hear how the Russian bands sound would carry over into their sophomore release. I was a bit concerned/skeptical when I saw no mention of a keyboard player on the bands website, as the creepy/atmospheric keyboards were one of the main things setting RIGORISM apart from their genre contemporaries. Luckily, my fears were unfounded. As with the debut, Cold & Pain is mid-paced, groove-oriented Death Metal, shot full of gloomy, creepy atmosphere created mainly by the unique use of keyboards. While the debut made me think of a circus sideshow, Cold & Pain brings to mind something more along the lines of a well-paced ghost story. In fact, theres something there from the atmosphere of the album to the artwork that makes me think of the master of Metallized ghost stories himself, KING DIAMOND. I cant exactly place my finger on it, but RIGORISM has presented an album that perfectly captures a sort of supernatural vibe, without ever resorting to shtick of any sort. In fact, I dont even think the lyrics have anything to do with ghosts, ghouls or zombies, so its entirely in the atmosphere created. Unlike the debut, the keyboards are found in smaller quantities on Cold & Pain, utilized more for textures here and there than as a regular accompanying instrument. I find this a little disappointing, as the keys really are outstanding, but on the other hand the guitars are getting more of the limelight this time around, which is never a bad thing. This also makes the parts where the keys do come in all the more effective. Another disappointment came in the form of the more subdued bass work on this album. The debut had some interesting things going in the bottom end, but the bass takes more of back seat on Cold & Pain. The drumming, however, is more active than on the debut, so I suppose that could be considered a fair trade. All in all, Cold & Pain is a more aggressive, more deathy release than Human Fear, without losing much of the atmosphere. I would have liked to see the keyboards playing the same front and center role as they did on the debut, but theyre still used to great effect. I dont know what other Russian Death Metal bands sound like, but if RIGORISM has given any indication through two albums, it just might be a scene worth looking into.(7,5/10)

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