My first true pathway into extreme forms of metal was through thrash, a sub-genre on which I overly indulged when I was growing up. It was the form of music that made me see some of the glam stuff I was into as a little silly (I’ve opened my mind back up a little bit to that in recent years because Dokken is fucking fun) and made that slide into death and black metal that much easier. It also makes me hesitant to embrace newer bands that try their hands at the sound.
I’ve not been overwhelmed with the most recent waves of thrash metal because I’m old and tired and set in my ways and mostly miserable. That doesn’t mean I’m not willing to let myself be surprised now and again, and Unspeakable Axe has done a nice job finding these bands, their latest being Atlanta’s Sadistic Ritual, one of the gnarlier groups playing this sound. Their first full-length is “Visionaire of Death,” and it’s a nasty animal that slides a little bit into death metal and leaves you with a bloodied mouth (it’s being released in conjunction with Boris Records). The band—guitarist/vocalist Charlie Southern, guitarist Alex Parra, bassist Shawn Staszko, drummer Joe Sweat—has been together since 2009 and released a series of smaller things before they got here, and that time together sharpening their teeth results in a punchy, brutal 10 tracks in a trim, nicely paced 37:40 that doesn’t overstay its welcome and leaves you wanting more.
The title track opens things up with warbled backwards messaging before the track breaks open and fries faces. The pace is fiery as hell, while Southern’s screams shred, the guitars go off, and things end in a crazed haze. “…In Cold Blood” is speedy as hell with raspy howls riffs pummeling, and a simple, but effective chorus giving you more than you can handle. This song just crushes. “Double Crossed” has a fiery start as the riffs go for broke, the drums punch you open, and the bass hunts you like prey. The track delivers relentless shots, wailing you over and over before ending in madness. “Executioner” also brings the speed as gritty growls lead the way, and the pace chugs and chews. The track is vicious as hell, fast and violent, with cool fluid soloing working its way in before the song comes to a bludgeoning end. “Mutually Assured Destruction” charges out of the gates and, in almost no time at all, is in a vicious sprint. Throaty vocals add to the fury, while the track maintains dangerous intensity and ends abruptly.
“Civil Unrest” jars and crushes as the vocals are spat out, and Southern wails about being “anarchy obsessed.” The guitars churn while the chorus brings things to the ground, and a splattering soloing caps off this short but deadly track. “Malicious Misanthrope” has mangling vocals, a pace that destroys worlds, and a burst of speed that can darken a city. Strong soloing opens and swells, while the track is left to bleed out on its own. “Death Shriek” is over before you know it, a 1:15-long monster that mixes more punk into its thrash DNA, has clobbering shrieks, and even delves into proggy soloing before barreling its way toward “Merciless Retribution” and its ground-and-pound assault. Gang shouts erupt while meaty riffs add to the attack, the growls drip with menace, and everything comes to a smashing end. Closer “Cerebral Sacrifice” is the longest song here, running a healthy eight minutes, of which the band makes good use. The playing pounds away with relentless intensity, throat-mangling howls charge, and the intensity is turned up even higher as the band sharpens their teeth. Later on, the terror mixes into cold, chilled playing, and out of that the chaos rises again, muscle is torn from bone, and the final moments revel in a violent haze that ends your experience in hypnosis.
Sadistic Ritual restore hope that perhaps thrash can be something inventive, dangerous, and fun again, and it doesn’t have to be about repeating tropes. “Visionaire of Death” is meaty and bloody, a good beating that you don’t mind sustaining because you’re enjoying yourself along the way even as open wounds begin to scream with pain. This band is here to beat the hell out of you, and they never fail to carry out that deadly mission.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SadRitATL/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/
Or here: https://boris-records.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/
And here: https://borisrecords.bandcamp.com/