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"Every Nerve Alive" was the second strike of the Japanese combatants called Ritual Carnage. Due to the fact that the band had an US-American frontman, the lead vocals, usually the weak point of East Asian formations, gave no reason for complaints. The barking and shouting of lead vocalist Nasty Danny fulfilled the expectations, no more, no less. His performance did not shine with any exceptional features, but it did also not lack of power. Furthermore, the gruff voice matched with the death / thrash metal excess of the instrumental section in a good manner.
The guys of Ritual Carnage concentrated on high velocity, furious yet slightly melodic guitar solos and robust riffing. Admittedly, the fast-paced guitars suffered a bit from the indifferent and intransparent sound. Furthermore, they were low-tuned so that the bass was hardly identifiable. Nevertheless, the production was able to present the songs in the right light. Not at least because of its fogging intransparency, it created a sinister and vicious aura. Despite the fairly dull mix, the punchy riff orgies of lead guitarist Eddie van Koide (the hyperactive Japanese answer to Eddie van Halen?) did not lack of pressure and belligerence. Without beating around the bush, the album was opened by "Awaiting the Kill". It started with eerily growing riffs that could not deny the fascination of the band for Slayer´s "Hell Awaits". After the culmination of the slow-moving introduction, high speed rhythms and merciless aggression dominated the sound - not only during the opener. The quality level of intensive and ironclad tunes like "End of an Ace" with its screaming guitar licks or the almost unbeatable "Scars of Battle" was absolutely amazing. But generally spoken, there was no track that should have stayed in the band´s rehearsal room. Quite the contrary, I really enjoyed the playtime of almost 60 minutes after their brief debut.
It took more than nine pieces before Eddie and his comrades permitted us to pause for breath. The tenth track, "Escape from the Light", surprised with acoustic guitars at its nearly emotional beginning. But like to fix an error, a flattening riff abruptly ended the unusual harmony. In accordance with the virulent outbreak of the guitars, the clear vocals of Nasty Danny during the verses of this tune remained a temporary solution. Be that as it may, the band proved successfully that it was able to deliver more than just one compositional formula.
The vinyl edition was published in form of a well designed double album with four additional tracks. Three compositions of the band and a cover tune of a completely unknown group called Metallica were offered. These songs could compete with the regular tracks without showing any unique elements. They followed the same path as the other pieces. I know that some professional journalists do not appreciate records like "Every Nerve Alive". They call them "one-dimensional" or "tiring". But in my opinion, this three-piece recorded exactly the album their fans wanted to listen to. What more could you ask for? These spirited songs were neither primitive nor progressive and the musicians stayed true to themselves. This led to the interesting perception that Ritual Carnage is the best export from Nippon up to now. The guys were faster than the cars of Toyota and more dangerous than Pikachu´s electro attacks. (Greetings to Japan and sorry for the cliches.)
Ritual Carnage, that Japanese band fronted by American ex-soldier Damian Montgomery releasing four retro thrash metal albums before disappearing into obscurity. When their debut ‘The Highest Law’ came out there was no such thing as a thrash metal revival and only a handful of new bands were playing that style (like Hypnosia). Because of this, Ritual Carnage did get their share of attention and good reviews in mags back in ’98. 11 years later, most thrashers seem to have forgotten about them.
Now each Ritual Carnage album had it’s own approach and sound. As if the band consciously planned every move and tried to explore each aspect of eighties thrash at their own pace and time. Two things remained present throughout all albums: the obvious Slayer and Sodom influenced riffs and the high average pace.
On ‘Every Nerve Alive’, due to the sludgy guitar sound and Damian’s voice being slightly lower than on other RC albums, the band is on the edge of diving into old school death metal. Just like Pestilence’s ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ which can be called death metal as well as thrash depending on the (age of the?) listener. In fact the album sounds a bit like the ScreamBloodyGore-era Death covering Slayer songs.
Unfortunately because a lot of songs do not have a memorable chorus or catchy riffs and melodies this album can be considered their least interesting release. As a whole it is a nice up tempo thrashing obscure work but when compared to ‘The Highest Law’ and especially the superb ‘The Birth Of Tragedy’ this album is mediocre save a few incidental good tunes. ‘Burning Red, Burning 'Til’ really stands out because of the Slayeresque riffs and catchy chorus.
Ritual Carnage have never been an original band and they always played music from at least 15 years earlier. But metal fortunately is not a genre which compels every band to be original. On two albums the band managed to have that ‘something extra’ to emerge from the masses. But not on ‘Every Nerve Alive’. It’s a decent piece of work but do get ‘The Highest Law’ and ‘The Birth Of Tragedy’ first if you don’t know them yet!
From start to finish this album is a total early Slayer/Sepultura (Beneath/Arise era)-worship thrash masterpiece!
You might think that "Awaiting The Kill" was the next "Hell Awaits" (without the backwards vocals) - with the exceptionally long and thrashy introduction to it. You can tell this song is going to blaze into all-out riff-fury by the first couple of minutes. And sure enough, the song does. Total fucking thrasher!
"8th Great Hell" would be awesome but it's too short! It's like Slayer's "Piece By Piece" - a good song but far too short to be excellent.
"Death, Judgement, Fate" is nothing new. Just more over-the-top death metallish thrash headbanging madness.
"Burning Red, Burn Til' Death" is a real treat, where the guitarist shows off his excellent lead-guitar skills! The solos in this song are fucking sweet as hell. Being from Japan, this song is about the Kamikaze Pilots crashing into US Battleships in World War II. Insanely killer warlike song, but the amazing solos are what really make this song stand out.
"End of an Ace", "World Wide War", "Scars of Battle", and the title track are all of similar stuff. It takes a while to actually find the difference between the four of them, but it's there! They aren't just 15 minutes or so of monotonous thrash metal with a few breaks in between! However, despite being good and all, they aren't really worth glaring over. Good riffs, fast as hell, but really that's what this album is so I won't go on and on about songs that are the same in nature!
"The Wrath". Now this is fucking nice. A huge change of pace from the relentless fury of every track and down we go into some galloping triplet frenzy. Total headbanging madness. Easily one of the most memorable songs on here. The solo is sweet as hell too!
"Escape From The Light" is quite different. It features some accoustic guitar work and some clean vocals. However the song, when it goes into it's heavier verses, seems to struggle to do so. By far the weakest song on the album.
Now, my CD has 5 bonus tracks. One, an original, called "Far East Aggressors" and 4 covers, including one of Metallica's "Hit The Lights".
"Far East Aggressors" is hella catchy, considering how aggressive this band can be! An excellent song!
"Hit The Lights", originally by Metallica, is an okay cover, though it just doesn't do with that old-school production and wierd vocal shriek/singing Hetfield had for the album. Decent cover, but bad production and the vocals don't fit.
The other covers are "The End's Demise" (whoever originally did it, I don't know and don't have the album with me... I apologize for that but there was nothing special about it anyways), "F.O.A.D." by Grinder, and "No Compromise" by Defiance. I have not heard the originals but there was nothing special about any of them.
All in all, worshippers of old-school thrash should definitely pick this up! From start to finish it's a relentless fury of juicy, thrashy guitar riffs and insane drumming. The only complaints are the vocals. They are sort of death-metallish, but the main problem is that they are mixed too low! With the guitars, bass, and drums, the vocals are low in volume and sometimes it is hard to hear whatever it is he is growling, though he sings fast so it's not like you'd automatically be able to sing along with every word right from the get-go.
And of course, this album isn't anything new or original, yet that isn't a bad thing. Pure old-school thrash! I encourage fans of newer Sodom, Destruction, Sepultura (from everything up to and including Arise), and Slayer (especially Reign In Blood) to check these guys out! You won't be dissappointed.