It’s a pity that the longest of these new studio tracks is a dithering and dissatisfying nine-minute jam. A gradual build up is punctuated by a distorted “climax” that creates the mere mirage of progress and cathartic release – in fact, the piece comes to a close without having accomplished anything too substantial, like traipsing across endless desert plains only to realise that you’ve simply ventured in an elaborate circle.
The remaining two new pieces are ferocious in contrast, and shed harsh lights on the half-mast of the dawdling title track. “Blazoned Fauna” arrives still caked in that raw, murky rehearsal room energy, with vocals slurred over the top as a sleazy megaphone echo, and drums that just barely found a rhythmic authority in among the thick surge of guitars. But once again, conviction starts to waver as the band cycle the same riff over and over during the second half, without harnessing enough drive to push it into particularly hypnotic places.
“Men of Horror” is the best of the bunch by far, creating a dismal slow-motion merge of detuned powerchords, ritual incantations, synthesisers and rasping vocal cries. It draws to a close before it can suffer the same depreciation of momentum of the other two tracks – ironically, the one track that carries sufficient depth and purpose to withstand extensive repetition is the one track that’s reined in before it can do so, with Ramesses wisely opting for a more concise gut-punch instead.
The three live cuts fit in nicely here, produced so as to slot in with the vibrant and immediate sound of the studio pieces (or perhaps vice versa). Thankfully, they tend toward the livelier stance of “Blazoned Fauna” and “Men of Horror”, reaffirming the fact that Ramesses are strongest when operating at uncompromising full blast.