Here Lies Man vocalist Marcos Garcia says, of their new album Ritual Divination: ‘It’s an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip’.

He says ‘Musically, it’s an opening up more to traditional rock elements.’ – and it’s easy to hear Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf and the retro theatre organ evokes Hush by Deep Purple. I get the feeling Here Lies Man were transplanted to the modern day from Summer-of-Love California along with half a pound of “smoke-all-day” weed and a naïve-but-benevolent demeanour.

There is some pretty stonking classic rock riffing; it’s balls-to-the-wall pretty much from the word go – but not aggressive or sinister, just an easy-going rock-n-roll vibe (with plenty of roll). Paraodoxically it’s pretty frenetic throughout but driven by swinging, laid back drums. 

Consistently retro in terms of production, Ritual Divination sounds like it was recorded in the 70’s, it’s nice as a concept but doesn’t appeal to my personal preferences – I don’t think that the thing that we lost from the music of that era is the un-polished “live-and-lo-fi” sound so much as the charisma and energy of relentlessly-gigging bands, the practiced simplicity of the music and the unburdened outlook of the musicians. Most of all, the music of that time was fresh and new and boundary-pushing. Ritual Divination doesn’t feel like that.

I struggle to make out most of the lyrics; the vocals are low in the mix and heavily treated on every track. It’s as if Garcia is shouting at me through a tube on another part of a submarine through one of those giant kids’ spring-reverb microphones. Every instrument is a little bit distorted and there isn’t much variety in any of the sounds, particularly from song to song, especially noticeable on the keyboards. It almost sounds like a live album.

There are a few exceptions which, standing out as strongly as they do, seem to reinforce how homogenous the rest of the album is. The outro of I Told You (You Shall Die) is brass and flute and bells and sounds a bit reminiscent of old 70’s BBC theme tunes like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Come Inside is off the chain, with some great, loose bass playing.

This album has been described as “metal-meets-Afrobeat”, which isn’t always obvious to me, but the tracks I Wander and Cutting Through the Tether both fit that billing, featuring bongos and polyrhythms all over the place, loads of groove and simple, single note pentatonic riffing, more spacious and stripped down than many of the other songs. 

Listening to Ritual Divination is sort of like being underwater for 45 minutes. It’s a bit of a relief to come up for air and to put on a less dense and relentless album. That said, I do recognise that it ticks all the boxes of a psychedelic album that takes you to a very specific place and keeps you there.

Here Lies Man: Ritual Divination out 22nd January 2021 (Riding Easy Records)


Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.