Released: 2013, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Of the myriad re-thrash bands that have emerged in recent years, Oakland's Holy Grail are one of the few that have established what one might consider a distinctive sound. Though theirs is certainly rooted in vintage thrash, its rare that a song or riff will instantly recall Exodus (a favorite of the re-thrash contingent), Testament or Metallica.
This is especially true of their second album, which harnesses some of the sheer abandon of their 2010 debut, Crisis In Utopia, tightens up the songwriting and performances and blends power with clever melodies. If you want booming, moshable hooks and infectious sing-songy choruses, Ride The Void delivers them by the truckload. Ditto glorious guitar harmonies and shreddy, yet not too indulgent, soloing.
And frontman James-Paul Luna has some of the finest pipes in thrash, and is not afraid to showcase them, keeping his singing crystal clear throughout and not cheapening it with rote, tough-guy growling – nor, by the same token, getting all warbly or operatic.
Ride The Void is darn near a perfect thrash album. While it might be a bit too melodic or not abrasive enough for some – the production here, truth be told, is sterling and crisp almost to a fault and songs like “Take It to the Grave” aren't nearly as menacing as their titles might lead you to believe – it should crush sufficiently enough for most, myself included.
The tempos still race along nicely, the riffs rip and the songs are, for the most part, freakin' sweet, to borrow from Family Guy patriarch Peter Griffin. “Dark Passenger” and the title track are especially good, and the aforementioned “Take It to the Grave” will stick with you long after the album is over.