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Mantic Ritual - "Executioner" (CD)

Mantic Ritual - "Executioner" CD cover image

"Executioner" track listing:

1. One By One (3:37)
2. Executioner (4:35)
3. Black Tar Sin (7:01)
4. Death And Destruction (4:11)
5. Murdered To Death (5:41)
6. Souls (7:14)
7. Panic (4:29)
8. Double The Blood (5:50)
9. Thrashatonement (2:50)
10. By The Cemetery (3:11)
11. Next Attack (4:43)

Reviewed by on March 18, 2009

"a scorching record that was tailor-made to be cranked at maximum volume"

The past couple of years have seen an influx of young, denim-wearing musicians eager to bring the spirit of thrash metal alive again. From Gama Bomb to Warbringer, Municipal Waste to Bonded By Blood, everywhere you turn is another up-and-coming band looking to bring something different to a genre that many say ran out of ideas over a decade ago. The sudden rise in modern thrash bands has swept the metal landscape and given thrash metal the kick in the ass it needed to become relevant again.

Mantic Ritual has thrown its gloves into the ring, hoping to catch a glimpse of notoriety in the underground metal community that the other bands above have gathered. With a thrash/speed hybrid sound, and a willingness to push themselves to song lengths most bands in the genre shy away from, the Pittsburgh foursome seem set to take over the world on their debut album, "Executioner." The result is a scorching record that was tailor-made to be cranked at maximum volume, even with a few pitfalls along the way.

With the rapid assault of “One By One,” "Executioner" opens up with a bang. The thrash breakdown about halfway through the track should be given a warning: “Can cause neck injuries from too much head-banging.” The title track continues in the same mold as the first track, with a twin-guitar attack that can best be described as total sonic destruction, and a brutal tale of death and gore. The lyrics mostly stick with the generic "war, killing innocents, and blood rituals" that were the topics of choice for many thrash bands in the mid-1980’s.

The lyrics aren’t the most intelligent, but the music itself more than makes up for the band's lack of storytelling abilities. Mantic Ritual shines with the shorter tracks, where they go as fast as humanly possible, bringing back memories of "Pleasure To Kill" and "Agent Orange." In this sense, "Executioner" actually gets better as the album goes on. The first half is too over-saturated with longer songs, as Mantic Ritual puts two seven-plus minute epics, “Black Tar Sin” and “Souls" near each other. While not boring or plodding, Mantic Ritual seems to pad out these songs with repetitious verses and unnecessary chord progressions.

The album gets back in gear with the future thrash classic, “Double The Blood.” The lead work in this track is phenomenal, as guitarists Dan Wetmore and Jeff Potts trade off solos like it was a walk in the park. The fury and intensity brought about by these two would strip the hair off Robin Williams’ arms. “Thrashatonement” and “By The Cemetery” are quick numbers that come through and tear shit up like a twister through an Oklahoma trailer park. Closer “Next Attack” is a slower affair that is subtle in its blunt-force attack on the listener’s eardrums, and with a Slayer "South of Heaven"-era vibe to it, showcases a different side of the usually-relentless Mantic Ritual.

With their debut album, Mantic Ritual provides yet another outlet for thrash metal fans to get their fix. With the exception of the mid-paced closer, the band doesn’t take a breather for 50-plus minutes. Ballads, acoustic guitars, and clean sections are nowhere to be found on "Executioner;" just balls-to-the-wall speedy thrash that will knock the unprepared listener into next week. With a crisp production, a solid rhythm section, varied songwriting, and fantastic guitar work, "Executioner" stands as one of the better modern thrash albums in recent memory. Even with a few flaws on "Executioner," Mantic Ritual proves to be a potential force to be reckoned with in the near future.

Highs: Great guitar work, strong production, solid rhythm section, relentless from start to finish

Lows: A few tracks go on for too long

Bottom line: "Executioner" is a great thrash album that doesn't let up and is guaranteed to resonate with fans of the genre.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)