One word speared thoughts as the debut album of US thrashers Kill Ritual unleashed its barrage of old school modern breathing sounds, exceptional. The Serpentine Ritual is outstanding, a release which just lights up the heart and captivates the senses as it chews on them with rabid glee. It is an adventurous album with no desires to break down new realms but just twists steadfast essences into something unique and thrilling to the band.
Kill Ritual formed in 2010 with Steve Rice and Wayne DeVecchi, ex-Imagika guitarist and drummer respectively, continuing the music they had began working on before the demise of their former band. Recruiting former Eldritch guitarist Roberto Proietti, former Dark Angel bassist Danyael Williams, and SF Bay Area vocalist Josh Gibson, the quintet began writing and working on their debut. The result a thrash driven sound with plenty of progressive and classic essences which combined makes The Serpentine Ritual released through Scarlet Records, one of the most enjoyable albums this year. It is a riotous beast of a record which recognises its target and unleashes slabs of essential and enterprising rock music to ensure capture. Imagine a fusion of Testament, Anthrax, Exodus, and Arcticflame and you get a measure of the hungry pleasure ready to explore upon the ear.
Produced by Steven Rice and Andy La Rocque, the album conquers appreciation immediately with the brilliant opening title track. The Serpentine Ritual is a song which stands there snarling and intimidating from its opening seconds, the scorched guitar spiral only reinforcing the muscular fire about to erupt. Once from its reins the track ravishes the senses with growling basslines, writhing and scything riffs, and a sonic whipping which just hits every sweet spot. The vocals of Gibson are instantly impressive and as track and album progress his stature just grows and grows. Beside his great delivery and range the predatory darker toned vocals add that extra shadow and devil to proceedings in the same way the heavy aggressive rhythms and bass stalk alongside the soaring guitar sonics and melodic invention. With a groove to seduce any resistance the song is a classic, arguably best thrash track this year.
The following Torn Down and Time TO Kill stand strong alongside the staggering starter, both in their distinct shapes, the first a classic bombardment of perfectly crafted venom and musicianship not to mention unbridled energy and the second a contagion of crippling rhythms and heart exploiting riffs. They are both songs which if they do not grab full allegiance suggests maybe thrash metal is not for you, such their irrepressible and irresistible classic presences.
Every song on the album is a boisterous and winning engagement, their towering aggression and intent an unstoppable infection of instinctive invention and domination brought through dazzling skills within energetic songwriting and sound, as ever though some tracks do rise above others for an individual though it is quite marginal to be honest. Tracks like Ambush and Cold Hard Floor alongside the opener ignite bigger fires of passion within compared to others. The first of the pair is a raw and bruising brute of a song where the band exposes extra malice and violence in their music, from the coarser delivery of Gibson to the merciless rhythms of DeVecchi and the destructive riffs. The latter song is a magnetic brew of classic rock n roll, a devil dance of majestic guitar play from Rice and Proietti completed by a brilliant guest solo from Andy La Rocque. Gibson again stretches his range to greater and skilled expanses, he is destined to greatness.
The thumping onslaught that is The Day The World Dies and the hardcore/classic metal tinged Prisoner Of The Flesh equally match those great heights with their combative breaths and antagonistic riff and rhythmic imagination. They again show the strength of variety from band and release as well as the extreme skills of each individual perfectly harnessed with clarity into an unrelenting stunning consumption.
The Serpentine Ritual is as mentioned at the start exceptional, a release drawing on established wells and through sonic alchemy producing music which is as fresh and refreshing as found anywhere in the genre and metal as a whole. The Kill Ritual has begun, in band and musical destiny.
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