Released: 2002, EMI Music Canada, Sanctuary Music, Housecore Records
Love him or hate him, Phil Anselmo is not a lazy man when it comes to metal. He is involved in so many bands it’s often hard to keep track--unless you worship Phil and are his #1 fan. Of course, everyone knows of his main band, Pantera, which in the '90's helped keep heavy metal alive and visible. Next on the list of importance of bands he’s involved with (in my opinion) is Down. Now a third (of still more side-projects) has fully come into the light: Superjoint Ritual.
Phil’s glorification of weed with the silly band name is a bit too much for me, so I will completely overlook that and concentrate on what is really important here--the music! The members of Superjoit Ritual include Phil Anselmo (of course) on vocals and on guitar! Jimmy Bower (Eyehategod / Corrosion Of Conformity / Down), who is primarily a drummer, also plays guitar on the album. Then there is Joe Fazzio on drums, and touring members, Kevin Bond (guitars), and III (bass guitar).
So when you have two people who are not known for playing guitar (Phil and Jimmy) what is the end result? Can they play? Well the answer is yes, but they cannot play any lead guitar worth mentioning! I am a big fan of having solos in metal--well not every single song, but the majority. So that is a strike against the band for someone with my tastes. That aside, they come up with some cool and heavy downtuned riffs.
So, what style of metal is this? Well, it’s clearly not mallcore! It has hints of thrash in a few places, groove, punk (check the tracks “Antifaith” and “Haunted Hated” for proof of an undeniable punk influence). There are very small amounts of Pantera in the music--the main thing of course being the vocals and in some places the riffs. There is hardly anything of Down in here, either. There is the down-tuned feel that some Down songs have, but this is clearly not Down. The album opens with the great instrumental track “Obvious Maximus” which sounds like a mix of old Celtic Frost, S.O.D. and Metallica’s “The Wait.” The drum sound is clear and well-produced like Pantera. The guitars, though, are nothing like Pantera. They are looser, more gritty and heavy! “Takes No Guts” follows in kind with Phil mixing the vocals between his gruff singing voice and his screaming. I am not at all a fan of his screaming. I like it for effect, but when someone is screaming their head off continually, I get rather annoyed. On “Everyone Hates Everyone” he does this again and it gets to be a bit much sometimes. It’s still a good song despite this. Other stand out tracks for me are “All Our Lives Will Get Tried”, “Messages”, “Ozena”, “Drug Your Love” which to me has riffs that stood out from the others.
I've gotta hand it to Phil, he has managed to create yet another band that stands on its own. I still prefer Down and Pantera to this, but Superjoint Ritual will appeal to many of Phil's fans. Check out the official website at http://www.superjointritual.com