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Thrash till you drop! I bet this is one true philosophy for these Far Eastern eardrum tormentors. 'The Highest Law' is the debut album from Ritual Carnage, the band who was put together by North American vocalist/bassist Damian Montgomery with Japanese guys.
Ritual Carnage perform old-school thrash metal with considerable death metal addition to it, without any intention of putting something new or different elements into this well-known form of extreme style of metal. However, they aren't "retro", even though probably all of their influences come from 1980s and early 1990s. The sound isn't made in a jurassic way, but it's modern enough with needed punch. The rhythm guitars are just dense, as is the whole production, with the bass guitar getting a bit lost into it at times, as well as the reverbing drums. This was recorded at Morrisound Studios, so it really isn't a surprise that at times it enters to death metal sounding territories, or even the blacker ones. But hey, this album was released by Osmose Records, so... Generally, it wasn't made to sound very tight, but louder one listens to it, the better it sounds.
As stated before, mainly this is true old-school thrash metal, lifting its influences from around the globe. Onslaught (yes, also in Ritual Carnage songs, not only on the cover song), Dark Angel, Exumer, Whiplash, Living Death, Nasty Savage, you name it. 'Damnator' is the most death metal piece here, harking back to birth of Death, Slayer and Sepultura. The songs are fast and they live from good riffs. There are enough of those good riffs to make the songs feel alive, but truly great riffs are scattered scantily. But many bands don't have these killer riffs in first place, so... The biggest reason is, that many a riff sound just quite bloody familiar. Still, this grabs by the balls, and does it pretty forcefully. Sometimes blasting, sometimes more punky, never tiring. Short-ish song durations, too, guarantee that.
If some parts are a bit familiar, then lyrics are simply old news. As they are targeted towards every religion, what would you expect them to be?! Something like "Satan, master, hell, you lead this war"? You're absolutely right. Okay, there's some funny lines such as "I will rape your soul, by the rites of Lucifer!", but overall, the lyrics are just so familiar. 'Metal Forces' is a tribute to the band's favorite artists. Damian Montgomery's shout is raspy and meaty, unlike typical thrash metal types, and it is very effective in any case. There's something black and death metallic in his voice, sounding close to Martin van Drunen (Asphyx etc.) with more varied output.
High speed riffing and brutal solos, lots of double bass drum with fast rolls and attitude are present. Good! This is well done thrash attack and definitely on the better half, and one for those who miss starting times of extreme metal styles.
(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)