Album Title: 
Rituals Of The Lost Empire
Release Date: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Review Type: 

Even-though this guy from the French-speaking part of Belgium (Wallonia, the South of the country) is active as musician for about two decades, initially under the Planets Citizens moniker (rather EBM / Electro-Pop-oriented), I only noticed him about one year ago. It was under his moniker Rojinski that Alexei drew my attention.

Under that name, Rojinski, Alexei did write and compose a huge number of albums. Being one of the most productive human entities, Rojinski finished almost forty (digital) albums, which have a mutual and cohesive, yet still often differing sound. His play evolved towards Dark Ambient, leaving the electronic influences behind, yet still the recognizable core remains throughout each single recording.

Anyway, despite the many efforts, Rojinski’s aim is to continue producing material from his personal vision; not with the goal to become Mater Terra’s most known musician. And since I have the feeling that Alexei’s modesty equals his musical skills, I felt sort of obliged to write down my thoughts on one of his efforts, i.e. his latest pièce d’art, Rituals Of The Lost Empire. Why? Because it’s simply prodigious!

Rituals Of The Lost Empire is divided into six chapters, clocking almost fifty-four minutes. Indeed, the duration of these compositions is quite lengthy. It’s a conceptual album, which ‘describes the different phases of dark rituals in an imaginary civilization’, like the soundtrack for an imaginary documentary about unknown tribes from unexplored places and illusory spaces. Seen the adventurous yet integer variation in combination with the cohesive progression, that ‘movie’-alike attitude deeply creates visions of marvel and chimera. And what a stunning cover artwork!

The album starts with Lady Blackblood, which initially reminds me of Moloch Conspiracy. Eerie synth-lines and additional sounds from electroacoustic sources paint a landscape in shades of grey, veiled in a dense nebula of haunting nature. After a (short) while, more samples join, as well as an ethereal female voice (it will return later on the album) and other eldritch keyboard-lines. The interplay of the many keyboard-lines, sounds and semi-operatic voices crawls further into realms of mysticism and mystery, especially as from half of the track, when the whole sound becomes more abundant and rich.

The Circle Of Red Silk is the lengthiest piece (12:29) and brings a rather ritualistic form of Dark Ambient, explicitly exhaling an implicit Lovecraftian atmosphere. Several layers of haunting keyboard-lines soon get accompanied by abyssal drum-beats, militant and pu(ni)shing, even martial in essence. There’s a transcendental gloom that covers this soundtrack, fitting well to the doom that covers the whole journey. At about half of the track, more percussion-like material joins, subtly adding a distant hint of IDM (not that strange, seen the origins of this composer’s earlier works). An equilibrium in between discomfort and introspection gets unveiled towards the end, when sonic darkness and inherent meditation seem to morph into one unphysical substance.

The Priests Of The Non-Virgin narrate about rather occult sources, I think, for the main ‘theme’ sounds like a chilly wind, a painful breeze that surrounds the listener with qualmishness and coldness. Isolation and oblivion get defined through ominous waves of reverberating noises, making this track a black-abyssal and atrabilious sample. Without any focus on melody, The Priests Of The Non-Virgin delve deep into the darkest parts of the subconscious, and when the shamanistic chants join (like ritualistic-meditative throat-singing), the evil character opens hidden portals towards dimension beyond knowledge and acceptance. It’s like a vision of a long-forgotten ancient cultus.

More dark-ceremonial grandeur appear through the sounds of Procession, which starts with a ritualistic voice and tribal, even psychotropic, percussions of different nature. After about one minute, floating, even fairylike synths add a transcendental atmosphere, accompanying the listener through an inter-dimensional expansion, at the same time shrinking within one’s Inner Eye, as well as trespassing the unlimitedness of Space and Time. Contemplation and reflexion get defined by truly glowing keyboard melodies and those rhythmic percussions.

Ritual For The Shadows opens with a minimalistic soundscape, ghostly and icy. Soon some weird, malicious spoken voices enter, followed by more ritualistic drum patterns. Step by step, more additions join, sluggish and subtly, like modest, almost hidden synth-lines, increasing the asphyxiating nature of this mesmerizing quest, and the ritual drums that permanently grow into intensity and severity.

This six-tracker ends with Communion In The Ashes, a soundtrack for a universe, where a distant light gets uncovered behind a thick fog. Levitating keyboards, ethereal female chants and additional sounds are mingled into a sonic world of wonder and fascination. Leisurely it develops into a magnificent yet unlimited wideness, cavernous and void at first sight, yet secretly and invisibly filled with richness and abundance.

One last word about the quality of the production: top-notch. Seriously, this material is decently recorded and comes with a nicely balanced mix, yet it still gets enclosed by that slightly unpolished, sharp-edged shade of sound, which amplifies the ultimately obscure temper that embraces Rituals Of The Lost Empire with majesty and finesse.