[sic] Magazine

Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination

The only real criticism that could hitherto be levelled at LA rhythmic rock outfit Here Lies Man was that their fairly unique and otherwise compelling combination of near tribal percussion and hard riffing could get a bit samey. Credit then for experimenting with the levels on heady fourth LP Ritual Divination, heavy guitar brought further forward in the mix, fuzz dialled back to allow Marcos Garcia’s psychedelic vocal harmonies more space to breath.

The changes are subtle but, sometimes, effective. The “rhythms service[ing] the riffs”, as Garcia himself explains, the dull thudding of a track like “I Told You (You Shall Die)” sets up the heavy, primitive guitars to get gnarly, a queasy synth motif and murky vocals tempering the trip. And it’s these light synth touches twinned with space-rock effects that set the best tracks apart, the crunchy peaks of “Collector Of Vanities”, for example, decorated with a brilliant shimmer and cosmic radiation, the chorus popping in technicolour.

It’s not all good news though, Ritual Divination’s squelchy midsection, ripe for headbanging but devoid of genuine excitement, drawing the record out to unwieldy proportions, a few nondescript tacks dropping from the CD running order to create a more concise and concentrated offering on vinyl. Spend enough time with Ritual Divination’s longer edit and its qualities do begin to win you over however, juggernaut chug and weighty grooves really working drummer Geoff Mann out, the trancelike results getting a little funky with the addition of hand-drums and wah, the melancholy brooding of “Disappointed” varying the tone, tempo and texture.

Here Lies Man know what they do best though and bookend the album with good impressions, the totemic “The Fates Have Won” closing out with shamanistic chant, choppy guitar bringing the heat as weaponised drums apply the afterburners. Splitting the difference between Black Sabbath-style knuckle-dragging and the pillowy riffs Tame Impala once did so well, “In These Dreams” in turn raises the curtain with crunchy bass distortion and a catchy stomp, a sweaty, dusty rite-of-passage dose of retro rock that wouldn’t sound out of place on the label’s superlative Brown Acid archival compilation series. A mixed bag then, but our kind of bag all the same.

Best track: “In These Dreams”

~Ritual Divination is released January 22nd 2021 via RidingEasy Records.~