|Review: Ritual Carnage - I, Infidel|
Label: Osmose Productions
Year released: 2005
Genre: Thrash Metal
Review online: August 5, 2005
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Rated 4/5 (80%) (9 Votes)
I have to say right from the start that this is my first exposure to Ritual Carnage, at least on the aural level as I've read the occasional interview over the years. This Thrash outfit is mostly Japanese but fronted by an American. The last time I read an interview with them, he was living in Japan, but I recently learned that he had moved to Florida. Anyway... Might as well get rid of the annoyance factor right now: Ever since I've put this album on my playlist, I've had to deal with two obvious "problems" (your mileage may vary) that prevented me from fully enjoying the quality thrash offered in this release, namely the very clean sound and the vocals. I know there's an obsession for clean sound nowadays, a direct result of the digital obsession, but this is thrash and I expect more of a raw sound. This sounds over polished and as far as I'm concerned, that takes away some of the aggressiveness of such music. At least they still managed to keep a rather crunchy sound for the guitars, but the sterility quickly kicks in. Alright that's one down. Now on to the vocals. For this release, Danny Carnage has reportedly (in his words) cleaned up his vocals for that "Bay Area" sound. Fundamentally, I don't have a problem with that. I'd rather have this than death-like vocals on a thrash album. However, these vocals are slightly too high-pitched and overshadow the music too much at times. They also sound a bit forced and even monotonous by moments, not flowing too naturally. But for a first attempt, I guess it could have been a lot worse. To top it off, oftentimes the vocals are so high that the music is barely audible. That said, after several listens I eventually managed to get over the sound and vocals thing and dig out some of the good thrash hidden behind them.
What we got here is a relentless assault of old school thrash and the end result is a bit of a mix of German and Bay Area thrash - more of the latter, incidentally, since that's what the band was aiming at. Ideally I'd have refreshed my memory on mid to late 80s thrash to give an accurate base of comparison, but this is not an ideal world sooooo.... It's your average old school mid-80s thrash with a reaaaally clean feel to it, how's that? :) This is not some watered-down thrash, but rather an unrelenting devastating onslaught of riff-o-rama and powerful drumming (albeit occasionally a bit repetitive.) As you may already have guessed from the album title, the lyrical content revolves around terrorism, which I guess is quite fitting to angry Thrash music. :) One thing that I noticed after several listens is that the album didn't leave much of a lasting impression - good and quite enjoyable while listening to it, but easily forgotten once the music stops. I've been encountering quite a bit of that lately.
"I, Infidel" doesn't venture into new territory and that's probably a good thing. I'd rather have some well-executed old school thrash like this, no matter how many times it's been done before, than some bullshit experimentation that falls flat on its face. Even though this is well done, the overly clean sound, the vocals and the fact that after some 15 listens I still can't remember much of the album, I'm forced to rank this as average - which, incidentally, is still a hell of a lot better than a lot of stuff thrown my way in recent months. I'm sure a lot of people will dig this anyway.
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