They were kicking in… You knew they were because their cow-shit taste was all but a tingle on the edge of your palate. “It was mostly stemmms… stem-ummms.” She’d giggled out on the edge of the couch while you stared at the stove trying to figure out how to take a knife hit of kief with just one pair of hands and a gas burner. Soon you were laughing too, that’s how you knew they were kicking in. It is a gas burner, right? — Yellow fluorescence melts into green as you blink, the Earth spins and shakes your cervical vertebrae like a bobble-head and… Time to sit down. She’s in a black fur coat with a mound of silly putty that stinks like a foot; A smile the size of her face flinches with the beat of your heart as something darkens around her eyes but, only when she blinks. It’s 2001 and the Gwen Stefani video on your not-so flat screen TV drives you out, outta the damn sliding door and onto the porch for a honey-flavored cigarette? You’re an idiot, high off your ass and staring at a damned parking lot trying to figure why she’s stopped laughing. She’s dead and in the woods, behind the supermarket, up the hill screaming in a circle of bones and you’ve been sitting there staring for an hour. You grab a knife, no time for shoes, like a god-damned warrior you’re already sprinting towards her captors when it hits you like a ram’s head: It was your pyre, your bone-circle, your blade and your Sadistic Ritual that killed her before. The blood on your hands, true “Visionaire of Death”, is evidence enough! There is no choice, no future left, the only way out of this town is to kill and kill again.
Goddamnit if Atlanta, Georgia brutal thrashers Sadistic Ritual don’t butcher and skin every pair of ears they touch on this meticulous display of classic late 80’s styled thrash metal from the mind of guitarist/vocalist Charlie Southern (Ectovoid, Vimur) who you might recall from that reissue of Atlanta death metal Haunting‘s fire-assed demo back in 2018; Sadistic Ritual was essentially Southern‘s first project he’d formed as a teenager back in 2008 (though the details on Vimur‘s timeline are fuzzy, its their drummer’s vision) and I’d say none of their early releases really posed a serious threat to the community until the ‘Edge of the Knife’ (2015) EP. At that point the rasping vocal and vicious semi-Teutonic riffing were too wicked to ignore as their material was about on par with groups like Deathstorm but with a Morbid Saint-esque vibe coming at a somewhat slower clip. From the perspective of folks like me, who watch up-and-coming thrashers like a hawk, there is some hope that artists’ll kinda go the ‘Arise’/’Idolatry’ route or full-bore Demolition Hammer (alternately Gammacide) if you’re lucky but, many tend to go full death metal once they’ve had their first big hurrah. In this case Southern has enlisted the patient help of guitarist/producer Alex Parra (Paladin, Gunpowder Grey) to get it right and the result is fucking immaculate brutal thrash record that never goes full death metal but reads just as intense as any pre-’91 classic.
Southern‘s snarling vocal is nearly a dead-ringer for Demolition Hammer‘s Steve Reynolds rasp on ‘Epidemic of Violence’ that you might actually think you’re listening to part two as songs like “Executioner” and “In Cold Blood” fire up and go off. Before you start nodding your head and backing away from my weird obsession with brutal thrash and 80’s death metal relax, there are loads of other classic thrash influences that’re just as clear as ‘Visionaire of Death’ is spinning. The most remarkable and instantly gratifying bit of instrumental familiarity comes from the two guitarists, Southern and Parra, they’re both well known fret-board wizards for folks who follow Atlanta metal (see: Paladin‘s ‘Ascension’ like, last week!) but they bring this crazy-assed ‘Rust in Peace’ vibe to the lead guitar trade-offs and duels throughout. Well, ‘Rust in Peace’ if there were two Mustaine style shredders on hand (see: “Double Crossed”!) Right, Demolition Hammer and prime Megadeth references and hey, I’ll wait while you’re falling out of your chair buying it as fast as you can. On a more serious note, the level of intricacy, ‘classic’ thrash sound design, riffcraft, and generally front-to-back riff-fest that Sadistic Ritual have brought on ‘Visionaire of Death’ is something special for fans of ‘real-and-actually-good’ thrash metal and not that chuggy ‘dad metal’ groove shite bigger labels are throwing to the wind every week. Its right up there with recent records from Inculter, Critical Defiance, and Rapture in terms of evoking the ‘old school’ but with a new blast of youthful energy and horrendous darkness in hand.
Sharp technical skills, immaculate takes throughout, and a commendably brutal drum performance from Joe Sweat (Mangled) give Sadistic Ritual an edge on most any classic leaning brutal thrash metal band in recent memory. That level of production quality, songwriting ‘maturity’ (a level of know-how, if you will) and generally high standard of precision creates something to behold, a real spectacle for the world of self-produced thrash music. Even if you’re not as cranked as I am by this style of brutal thrash you’ve got to appreciate the cleanliness of the capture itself, the murder-in-a-bottle style just tips the scales and crushes the stage for my taste. You’ll never hear me harp on about “riffs” this much so, hopefully that is loud and clear enough. Very highly recommended, all killer material delivered as a frightening drug-fueled murder suicide. For preview I’d recommend “Executioner” if you’ve had your Demolition Hammer goggles on since you read their name and then “Malicious Misanthrope” / “In Cold Blood” for some of my favorite guitar work on the album.
Killed in cold blood. 4.5/5.0
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