Album review: Here Lies Man – Ritual Divination
“We’re very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs. Tony Iommi’s innovation was to make the riff the organising principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organising principle: For Iommi it was the blues, for us it comes directly from Africa,” declares Here Lies Man guitarist/vocalist Marcos Garcia, discussing his band’s musical mission to marry Black Sabbath’s heavy fuzz with the indestructible rhythms of Afro-beat.
For Here Lies Man, the groove is indeed everything, and that idea has served them well since the release of their self-titled debut in 2017. That said, their third album, 2019’s No Ground To Walk Upon, felt more like a stop-gap EP, packing in a mere seven tracks. Whether this was down to a dearth of ideas now seems like a moot point because Marcos and HLM co-founder/drummer Geoff Mann have returned with an album that doubles that slender collection in length. In fact, the digital and CD versions offer up 15 tracks, while the vinyl package contains 12 tunes and a further two on an accompanying 7‑inch.
This wealth of music comes with a renewed focus too – something possibly born from the fact that this time around the band’s line-up has genuinely solidified with the permanent arrival of bass player JP Maramba and the aptly named keyboard player Doug Organ. Most significant of all, however, is Here Lies Man’s decision to put “the riff” front-and-centre on this occasion, drawing on influences that extend beyond Sabbath to incorporate elements of early Thin Lizzy and Queens Of The Stone Age without aping either.
The opening brace of tunes – In These Dreams and I Told You (You Shall Die) – exemplify the album’s guitar-heavy approach, anchored by Garcia’s driving riffs. That said, Mann remains as busy as ever, his playing on Can’t Kill It and the rhythmic orgy of I Wander reminiscent of Cream legend Ginger Baker’s work with Nigerian icon Fela Kuti in the ‘70s.
If Ritual Divination captures the four-piece at their most direct, their love of hypnotic freakery remains undimmed. Indeed, Organ’s keyboard swirls ensure that the psychedelic and cosmic elements that defined Here Lies Man’s earlier work are gloriously intact. Even the heads-down, motorik charge of Come Inside boasts keyboard stabs that complement both Marcos’ riffs and his stuttering, stacked vocals to fine effect, while The Fates Have Won is a fluid, prog-metal sounding affair.
Repetitive rhythms, multi-tracked vocal chants and elephantine riffs reside at the heart of Here Lies Man’s sound, combining this time around to deliver what is arguably their most joyous and satisfying set to date. The album also boasts hooks aplenty, ensuring that certain tunes stay lodged in your brain for days. A heady brew, indeed.
For Fans Of: Black Sabbath, Goat, Budos Band
Ritual Divination is out now on Riding Easy Records.
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