Released: 2016, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
In another era, Los Angeles-area quintet Holy Grail probably could have been huge. Their technically adept thrash metal, with its deft blend of dexterity, heaviosity and accessibility, would have been perfect during the rise of the Big Four. These days, however, about all that's good for is some prominence in a metal underground where thrash revivalists are legion.
That doesn't mean Holy Grail are any less worthy of attention within this limited sphere. The band's '80s-inspired thrash is anything but a rehash aided by the power metally overtones of Eli Santana and Alex Lee's sleek guitar work and, especially, in James Paul Luna's soaring vocals that bring far more warble than bark. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Times of Pride and Peril is slicker and even more “power metally” than its predecessors. While still up-tempo, it isn't quite as frantic and there are ample hooks, shreddy solos and money shot choruses all over the place, typified by tracks like “Descent Into The Maelstrom.” The album even concludes with the Blind Guardian-like histrionics of “Black Lotus,” a 9:34 epic that offers a heaping helping – or rather helpings - of all of the above.
That said, the groovy “Those Who Will Remain” delivers plenty of crunch, as does “Psychomachia,” the thrashier, more complex “Apotheosis” and the album's anthemic centerpiece “No More Heroes.” So there is no shortage of muscle here, even if the punches don't quite land as consistently hard as they did previously.
In the end, its the band's note-perfect execution, and some all-around pretty dynamite songs, that matter more than anything. And aside from a bit of over-indulgence on the aforementioned “Lotus” and the rather hokey “Pro Patria Mori” that precedes it, Holy Grail hit the mark with remarkable consistency here and come away with another winner.