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Holy Grail - Ride The Void

Label: Prosthetic
Format: CD download
Released: 2012
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8/ 10

Not sure who was responsible for the track sequencing of the long awaited (and more mature) sophomore effort from Holy Grail (“Crisis In Utopia” was released back in ‘10), but they didn’t do these rising youngsters any favors. The best material is at the end of the eleven songs (an instrumental ‘Archeus’ opens the album and another voiceless composition, the orchestral strings accompanied ‘Wake Me When It’s Over’ appears next to last).


While the beginning of ‘Bestia Triumphans’ (the longest track, eclipsing six minutes) adheres to the speedy neo-classical traditional metal of its predecessor, there’s a disturbing trend found here, and elsewhere on “Ride The Void”, modern American staccato rhythms and aggressive/death vocals. While the second voice is usually in concert with James Paul Luna’s Dio/Rivera inspired approach, it’s unnecessary. Will be interested to see how this translates to the stage, as the band (who tour relentlessly) is already heavier in concert. Snippets of barked lyrics are evident on ‘Crosswinds’ and ‘The Great Artifice’, which also contains some modulated vocals from Luna. First single, ‘Dark Passenger’ never tops third gear and might have been better situated amongst the “old school” numbers found on the latter half (side B in the vinyl era), any one of which is more indicative of the true Holy Grail sound. ‘Bleeding Stone’ is another adequate mid-tempo song, but given the groundwork laid on the debut (chiefly ‘Immortal Man’, ‘Fight To Kill’, ‘Cherish Disdain’ and ‘Call Of Valhalla’) still not quite up to snuff. The title track, which kicks off with a short acoustic burst, then falls into that clickety-clack pattern, is the first great song on the album, at slot #5. A punky ‘Too Decayed To Wait’ follows, getting the velocity quotient close to optimal. Mellow intonations and military cadence snare drumming intimate ‘Sleep Of Virtue’ might be a ballad, but in a short neo-classical run, it climbs comfortably into the Grail’s skin. ‘Silence The Scream’ finally sees the tempo meet earlier standards, but not without the odd break.

Certainly not as immediately gratifying as the last album, but also more varied. A grower!

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