Hungry for some quality Bay Area Thrash? Have a portion of Kill Ritual!
Where did these guys appear from?? Who cares! Kill Ritual nail it on their debut album!
Actually, I do know where they came from, Kill Ritual was formed in late 2010 by Steven Rice and drummer Wayne DeVecchi, added to the mix were former Eldritch guitarist Roberto Proietti, former Dark Angel bassist Danyael Williams and last but not least, vocalist Josh Gibson. Kill Ritual also just signed a deal with Scarlet Records for the release of their debut album…but as mentioned before, all that matters here is that they NAIL their debut album!
I’m not gonna blah on about how much the Bay Area thrash scene changed the modern metal landscape. Just like I’m not gonna blah on about how, apart from Exodus & Testament, most of the bands haven’t really done anything exciting for donkeys.
However I am gonna blah on about this album, “The Serpentine Ritual”. It took me totally by surprise. I’d not heard of these guys before (this is their first LP), I’d not heard of Imagika either, which is a shame as after their demise, phenomenal lead guitarist Steve Rice and drummer Wayne DeVecchi started Kill Ritual.
And Kill Ritual are fucking GOOD!
The album kicks off with the title track which is a declaration of intent for sure. Crunchy riff leads into a squiddly widdly solo and back to the crunchy stuff. I’ll mention it early doors, the vocals of Josh “Crimson” Gibson may be a tad off putting to some. Very high pitched, not like King Diamond but kinda like Eric A.K. from the (awesome) Flotsam & Jetsam….. but a bit higher & very distinctive. You won’t mistake him for anyone else, I can promise you that. I can actually imagine his voice in an 80’s LA glam metal band! Still I got used to them quickly and they suit the music.
Steve Rice’s guitar work is fantastic throughout this album, his playing is technical enough to get the fret nerds & Malmsteen fans moist but quite never overly so and he goes from squuuuuueeeeeee widdly widdly to chugga chugga effortlessly. Every musician in the band is very experienced and it shows in the song writing, the tracks are all memorable and the album is a bit of a hook fest.
The production by Steve Rice is superb too, as is the mix by King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque (who also donates a solo on the track “Coat Of Blood”) Very polished and every instrument stands out in this metal maelstrom perfectly.
Incidentally thrash heads – bass player Danyael Williams was in the final line up of none other than Dark fuckin’ Angel, one of my favourite thrash bands ever!
Still back to The Serpentine Ritual, standout tracks for me are the crunch fest of “Torn Down” which wouldn’t have been out of place on an early Anthrax LP, very aggressive riffing. “Time To Kill” has a great vocal performance, some brilliant drumming and lots of time changes, very Iced Earth. The track “Coat Of Blood” starts off with a tasty acoustic intro & a different cleaner more normal vocal approach before turning into a bit of a thrash epic about waking up covered in yep, blood. It’s hard to pick favourites on this album as it is so laden with good tunes. The songs explore various metal territory but never deviate too far from the quality thrash metal blueprint.
All in all this is a blinding debut from a very exciting band of quality metal musicians.
Is it breaking new ground? No, but it’s dead exciting, has a unique enough feel and the band have stamped their own identity all over it.
Call yourself an “Old School Thrasher”? then prove it…. buy this album asap!