Having been thrilled and impressed by their debut album The Serpentine Ritual in 2012 and more than intrigued by the single Harder Than Stone earlier than this year, anticipation was high for the sophomore full-length from US metallers Kill Ritual. Though it probably took longer than its predecessor to fully convince, needing a more intensive attention and time discovering all of its twists and compelling turns, The Eyes Of Medusa easily feeds expectations and hopes with its inventive and diverse flavouring. The album is one which continues the band’s skilled fusion of thrash and heavy metal with a wealth of fiery additives as shown by their debut but pushes a wider imaginative adventure upon this potent canvas. There are moments where success ebbs and flows a little within the release but it is an unrelenting captivation which even in its less potent moments is never far away from igniting the imagination and a very healthy appetite.
Kill Ritual was formed in 2010 by Imagika guitarist Steve Rice and drummer Wayne DeVecchi, who continued their union to explore and push on the music they were already working on before the demise of the band. The line-up was soon completed by the addition of former Eldritch guitarist Roberto Proietti, former Dark Angel bassist Danyael Williams, and vocalist Josh Gibson. Released through Scarlet Records, the band’s brew of progressive and classic essences with a thrash driven core caught immediate attention through The Serpentine Ritual, a release which was unpredictable and compelling from start to finish. Unleashed by now a quartet of drummer Gee Anzalone (Brain Damage) alongside, Rice, Gibson, and Williams, The Eyes Of Medusa is much the same; whether an acceleration of its predecessor’s triumph is still in debate but certainly it is a release which stands by its side in quality, surprises, and enjoyment.
Mastering by Rice and Andy LaRocque (King Diamond, Hammerfall, InFlames), and produced by Rice, the GoldenCore Records/ZYX Music released album steals the passions instantly through its opening title track, the entrance of the song through a wonderfully nagging lure of jagged repetitious riffs immediate magnetism especially with the subsequent fall of heavy rhythms and dark throated bass strikes. The additional emerging web of melodic temptation only steals a richer intrigue before the proposition unleashes a charge of thrash bred voracity. The track surges with sinews flailing air and intent ravaging senses whilst vocally Gibson parades a strong and varied display which matches the equally eventful and resourceful narrative of the song. It is an impressive invitation into the album, guitars a fluid colour of imagination and craft across a canvas of hungry rhythms and riffing which highlights further the eloquence, raw power, and striking invention of the offering.
The following Hair Trigger struggles to match the stunning start though it still leaves a satisfaction which keeps attention and appetite fully locked into the release’s grip. A classic/power metal spine thrusts the track urgently through the ear, its thrash intent similarly loud and enveloping but the spark of ingenuity which veined the first is less vocal thus feeding expectations more. Despite that with another great vocal diversity to his presence Gibson alongside the guitar of Rice light the senses and emotions to please with a more than accomplished slab of muscle bound rock ‘n’ roll. Its successor Never Get Me is much the same, a very decent and engaging slice of metallic persuasion presented with the expected craft and enterprise of Kill Ritual but lacking that essence of originality and ingenuity which ignited the album’s start and much more of its body to come.
Ride Into The Night is prime heavy metal and like the previous pair satisfies but fails to light any fire in the belly of itself and the passions before The Eyes Of Medusa launches into a greater inventive turn to return to its earlier glory. Weight Of The World slams headfirst into ears with a storm of thumping rhythms, snarling riffs, and an intensive breath. Grooves entwine their infectious tempting around a reawakened hunger, lacing the ears with addictive bait matched in success by the again impressive range of vocal styles, the spoken dark tones irresistible, and a sonic enticement which sends sparks across air and senses. Virulently contagious the track has the pulse rate racing ready for the equally rapacious Writing On The Wall, a track which stands tall with vivacious rhythms framing sonic flames and rich melodic hues. It is a thoroughly captivating rampancy which throws an enthralling curve ball as the song flirts with gothic shadows and progressive textures whilst exploring its roaring imagination.
The seeming power ballad premise of Just Another Sin reinforces the wide songwriting skills of the band with its emerging predatory sound and carnivorous energy before My Little Sister provides the album with another pinnacle. A tempest of raw and dirty rock ‘n’ roll fed with an antagonistic metallic rabidity, the track stomps and seduces with old school breath and thrash voracity tempered and enhanced by melodic metal temptation. Veined by inescapable hooks and a barbed rhythmic slavery, it is a masterful capture showing the band as capable of rock pop as unbridled thrash consumption.
The album ends with another couple of triumphs to make it a must investigation of 2014, the first Unleashed employing the mix of darkly spoken vocals and scorched clean delivery again to great effect and persuasion within a similarly convincing antagonism of hard rock and heavy metal filtered by the aggressive skill which makes Kill Ritual a constantly rewarding protagonist. As the album, the guitar skill and enterprise of Rice seduces as does the impressive vocal variety and strength whilst rhythmically Anzalone and Williams makes an irrepressible cage. Final song Agenda 21 is our favourite, its sinister presence and continually changing character of sound scintillating. From a mix of Anthrax and ArcticFlame, the track turns into a bestial demon before another twist sees a funked up blaze with essences of Suicidal Tendencies to it, at times a more Infectious Grooves infestation thrilling. It is a glorious stomp with grinning mischief and insatiable ingenuity running riot across its creative and riveting body.
The Eyes Of Medusa is another tremendous exploit from Kill Ritual which warrants close attention to its plentiful bounty as it provides a sizeable treat.
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