This is the third album from Berlin’s Albez Duz. The word occult seems to be bandied around a lot with them, and apparently this harks back to the drug-driven early days of heavy metal.

There’s definitely something old school about the opener “Rites of Hidden Souls”. Psychedelic through its veins, the instrumentals have a fuzzy element. The song itself, which is solid enough, has a ghoulish element about it. I can’t say that I really warmed to the theatricality of it but it’s a lively and weighty enough song. Its darkness carries over to the more doom like “Wandering Soul”. The not-quite-there vocals feature again, and to be honest do nothing for me. They don’t go with the chugga-chugga of the doom, plus they’re out of tune. I think the idea was that this was supposed to be painful. I felt the pain but in the sense of not being in tune with Albez Duz’s creative thinking. It’s never good when you look to see how long’s left of a song in the hope that it would end soon – 6 minutes was the answer in this case. There’s a change of direction, and it’s as if some life opera is being played out. The tempo picks up and the instrumentals are strong, so I’ll give it that. The last three minutes are devoted to a kind of extreme psychedelic, sinister doom – quite good actually and the best bit of this particular enigma. My reward was another 8 minutes of shuddering psychedelic doom in the form of “Participation Mystique Totalitaire”. The choral chant has an element of Deep Purple about it. This is meant to impress with its spooky darkness I guess, but I just found it incoherent and a bit kitsch in its exaggerated theatre. There is a decent old style guitar solo, which matches the ambience. Once again there is a complete change of direction with three minutes to go, as the band go off into a lively romp. It occurred to me that the style is was almost prog but of an old rock kind.

The start of “When The Bird Fledges” is like an underground film score. These guys do like their reverberative sound effects. This instrumental leads us into the Cathedral-like and over wordy “Surrender”. The drum then beats ominously and the instrumentals drive this latest kaleidoscope forward. It all sounds very earnest. I can’t put my finger on whether there are to many ideas or if it just sounds contrived. The mixture of old styles and the black gothic type vocals weren’t helping. It made me realise that black metal crawliness don’t mix with old school psychedelic metal. The lyrics are clean enough to be understood in a Type O Negative sort of way, but they just passed me by like a blur. I was more attracted to the cosmically weird and wonderful sections that usually appear at the end of tracks, but on “Emperor is Blind”, features in the middle before fading out. A short section of disturbing industrial feedback gives way to an atmospheric electronic doom dream and a final burst of grotesquerie. Without the vocals, I’m sure this unfathomable album would have made a better impression on me, but the uninterrupted atmospheric sections are just part of this. As if to consolidate my conclusion, there’s a bonus track “Only Lies”, which to my ears was just unstructured cacophony.

I could listen to this a thousand times and not get into it, so far am I away from its concept, so I shall give up at this point. “Enigmatic Rites” did nothing for me, I’m afraid. I didn’t get the musical concept, which I thought was over the top and muddled, I didn’t like the structure and hated the vocals. I am sure someone somewhere will find merit in it. Unfortunately that someone is not me.

(3/10 Andrew Doherty)