More than just about any style of metal, it’s nearly impossible to stand out as a thrash band. That’s really been the case since it was the dominant form of metal way back in the 80s, and is even truer in an age when actually original thrash bands come along about twice a decade.
Atlanta’s Sadistic Ritual is not one of these rare innovators, but they still find a couple ways to stand out. First and perhaps most importantly: they don’t sound exactly like any other band. They sound a little like a lot of bands, sure, but that’s better than sounding almost exactly like Kreator or Exodus, which seems to be the case with the vast majority of newer thrash bands.
At times, Sadistic Ritual really teases the line between thrash and more extreme styles. Drummer Joe Sweat isn’t afraid to pepper the tunes with actual blast beats, either as just a fill or as the dominant drum part of the passage. A track like “Civil Unrest” really lays on the blasting, and along with a bunch of thuds and fun trilly riffs isn’t too far off from something like Vader. At other times, the album has the slightest blackened touch, either in the form of early Kreator worship (the barely controlled chaos of “Executioner”) or through the occasional passage that isn’t far off from Norwegian thrash (the extra rippin’ material in the lengthy, wicked great closer “Cerebral Sacrifice”). The gruff, throaty rasp of frontman Charlie Southern also carries with it that extra touch of extremity.
Those little teasings of thrash’s edges are about as much variety as you’ll get with Visionaire of Death. It’s little more Bonded by Blood here, a tad more Spectrum of Death there, but it is by no means a deep record, and that’s just how Sadistic Ritual likes it. Most of the songs range from between two and just over four minutes, rarely easing off the aggression even a little. Add in a production that is modern without giving up the rough edge (crisp enough to hear the bass but not exactly Andy Sneap thick), a fun variety of soloing (melodic and dying cat both) and consistently tight performances and you get a damn fun thrash record.
It isn’t going to change your life or the metal scene, of course, but Visionaire of Death shows how far a little extra oomph can carry a thrash band. Oomph in riff quality, efficiency, personality, and most importantly, good old fashioned thrashing violence.