It's only perfect for about minutes out the 55, but nevertheless, The Ritual is heartfelt, brave and brawny music which never loses its luster, and when did that stop being important? A rousing success of an 'experiment', and if I'm the only guy who loves this until he's old and grey, than I'll play the odd man out proudly.
For the better portion of my time being knowledgable of Testament, I have never actually taken the time to really get into this album. Personally, what few attempts I made ended up sounding tiresome and weak on almost every occasion, with the exception of the powerhouse "Electric Crown" which is easily the best song here. This album doesn't really fit into either of those categories, being the odd man out stylistically.
The closest album it does have in common is its predecessor, "Souls of Black," but even then the actual writing direction seems quite different. There is some variety in the influences being portrayed here, and one cannot help but equate this to either Metallica's self-titled album or MegaDeth's "Countdown to Extinction," with myself leaning more towards the latter, with Alex Skolnick's amazing abilities on his instrument being a prominent reason.
The best songs here make an at least hearty attempt at throwing in some thrash here and there, the frenetic "Electric Crown" taking my pick as best song here, perhaps one of the band's best. Unfortunately, while there are some good songs on here and even some great ones, there is a pretty high abundance of filler going on here or otherwise uninspired moments.
The song does manage to exude some atmospheric affect, but ultimately stagnates and really ends up going nowhere. Other songs such as the title track and "Troubled Dreams" are both disposable tracks, both having some moments but neither one coming as particularly engaging nor memorable. In addition, some of the better songs here just end up going on for too long, which results in even the best songs at times feel too long and underwhelming.
All things considered, this is not a terrible album. Over time its managed to change my mind, which is pretty unusual considering the band we're discussing.
When the riffs are good, they definitely stand out, and Chuck Billy sounds better here than he did on any previous album. There is an unfortunate amount of songwriting mishaps that derail this from matching "Countdown to Extinction" in terms of quality and in some cases even falls below Metallica's self-titled.
Still, its a fine listen as there are enough positive factors at play to keep this from becoming a sinking ship but its also not the grand highlight of the boatyard. The beginning of the s was a very difficult time to play thrash metal. So as many bands Testament stood at the cross-roads. The most important thing is: did Testament record a good album? At the first sight — excellent front cover, but in this case Testament never disappointed.
Vocals of Chuck Billy notched up a masterful level. Alex Skolnick proved he is one of the best metal guitarist. A good production permitted to perceive an artistry of bass and drums works.
It paralyzes by its own atmosphere, majesty, the skill of creating of the tension. Totally wonderful opening guitar lead with interesting drumwork turns to heavy, almost doom riff, after few seconds it becomes faster heavy thrash composition with extraordinary guitar solo which is something usual on this album. To put it briefly, the band showed heavy thrash album, which was complete surprise for me and the rest of fans, but it is a great advantage.
Unfortunately, nobody was able to replace him worthily. Testament had gone mid paced nineties metal all the way here and not much old their earlier thrashing days thrash was left. After the intro the album presents us the two best songs immediately. The last one is a sort of powerballad following those on the earlier two records but it has a chorus and Chucks vocals sound adequate enough though not mind blowing. The other mentioned two songs follow the mid paced Black Album approach and succeed at being good songs though not coming close to reaching the quality of the first two songs nor anything from their previous 4 albums.
All the other songs go in one ear and come out the other and are annoyingly harmless. The better days of my early life as a metal head were spent listening to thrash metal bands that got their start in the early to mids, most of them portraying new and original takes on the sub-genre.
Sadly this album is held back by a lot of quasi-thrash filler, some confusion in who Chuck Billy is trying to emulate with his vocals, and some epic tracks gone wrong. The song picks you up, proceeds to let you down again, and ultimately makes words like inconsistent seem complementary. What remains is all that truly qualifies as thrash, albeit mid-paced thrash as the term speed became derogatory at the time that this came out. After the above average album that was 'Souls of Black', Testament went down in quality yet again with 'The Ritual'.
Some accuse them of selling out, but this is not entirely true, as this still sounds like a Testament record throughout, from the riffing to the excellent soloing. For 'The Ritual' Testament slowed down the pace and increased the sense of groove. The half-thrash style was hinted at in the previous two albums, but only on here did it really come out. Make no mistake, there are thrash songs on here, there is just less of them than previously. The riffs sound like a combination of groove and thrash, and range from good to pretty bad.
Like on any Testament record, most of them sound the same. While on 'Souls of Black' there was an increased number of riffs present that actually sounded different to each other, 'The Ritual' takes a step backwards with nearly all the songs sounding the same as each other.
The bad as a whole don't seem to be putting in the energy they once did, and the result is a below average album which lacks any intensity or memorability. There are some highlights on this. As would be expected, there is a great solo halfway through that owns everything before it returns to normal. For a ballad, 'Return to Serenity' really isn't that bad, although what really saves it from mediocrity is the soloing.
As for the other tracks, well they're nothing special. Not really a good thrash album if you ask me. While this release would lead on to 'Low' which is a pretty enjoyable album, this album has barely any redeeming points. Not worth spending your time on. I do tend to agree with some of the previous reviews of this album, in the sense that Testament did in fact take the time to rise to the occassion of what one would deem to be mainstream metal as of , no thanks to bands such as Metallica or even Megadeth.
However, this album has one hell of a crafty axeman by the name of Alex Slolnick, who's style is so unique that this album manages to rise above and beyond the work of most of their peers. The production is the best that its ever been for the band, thanks to new producer Michael Wagner. The melodies and hooks that were crafted for this album are everywhere, and manage to ooze out of every song.
Here's the cool part though. Many of the songs most memorable parts can actually be found in the guitar solos. No bullshit here, these guitar solos were not hacked during "spur of the moment" studio time.
No, these guitar solos were well thought out, with percise timings as to where and when to insert them in an effort to polish off and embelish the over all quality of each and every track on the album. The songs themsleves have been covered in great detail by many other reviews and like I already said, I tend to agree with the majority of what's been said. In fact, The Ritual is a microcosm of the entire thrash metal scene.
Once seemingly indestructible, by the group was crumbling towards an ignominious end, and despite possessing the genre's most technically gifted guitarist in Alex Skolnick and one of its most fearsome growls in vocalist Chuck Billy , Testament was obviously going down with the ship.
Yawn-inducing, production-line moshers like "Electric Crown," "So Many Lies," and "Deadline" dominate the album; brief flashes of inspiration, such as the intro riffs of the title track and "As the Seasons Grey" are few and far between.
SIDE 1: 1. When the fist comes down Days of blue just turn to grey The picture slowly aging Nothing left to the memory Death will not forsake them God fearing people say They are not afraid of dying So why do they turn to faith When faith has no meaning in life?
Fight on but what's to gain? Misfortune leads to pain Fearless they won't die Caged in they ask why Cry out but don't cry In agony Live on but what's to gain Die slowly everyday Misfortune leads to pain Will they ever be saved From agony, agony, agony In silent suffering It's never ending They pray to end their Misery Fight on but what's to gain Die slowly everyday Misfortune leads to pain Will they ever be saved From agony, agony, agony Missing in action Never forgotten America the mighty Set them free Fight on but what's to gain Die slowly everyday Misfortune leads to pain Will they ever be saved From agony, agony, agony With agony Don't go stray Agony Good sensation Agony 9.
The Sermon [Music: Peterson] [Lyrics: Billy, James] Suit up for destruction Death looks behind many faces Hatred plants its deepest seed In the most obvious places Symbols of allegiance Chaos spells devotion Evil is their sanction The master plan is set in motion Oh yeah! What the hell are you proud of? Heads held low Self-respect must be earned [Chorus:] Evil poisons taste just like wine Swallow the lies until you are blind And you're going blind Now let it flow Heads held low Self-respect must be earned [Chorus] Evil poisons taste just like wine Swallow the lies until you are blind And you're going blind Can't get to me or abuse me Your racist tears will amuse me And then you'll bleed
The riff is actually pretty good and Chuck's vocals work great on this song. This is just an awful listen. Log in to add a tag. Half Thrash is a meaningless term So album also Return To Serenity - Testament (2) - The Ritual (Cassette one of the best lead guitar tones that I have ever heard, and the ironic thing is that when Alex played this stuff live, not only was it played note for note, but it even sounded the same. There have been quite a few bands make good use of the slower thrash formula. Backwards proudly presents the reissue of a Return To Serenity - Testament (2) - The Ritual (Cassette M. What the fuck is that anyway? Its gloomy mood liaises with great, robust riffs and the lyrics match perfectly with the musical content.
Hugh Ferguson (1) - A.D.D. (CD, Album), The Day The Earth Caught Fire - City Boy - The Day The Earth Caught Fire (Vinyl), Love, Love, Love - Otis Spann - I Have Had My Fun (Vinyl, LP), Inception - Leftwing & Kody - Telepathy EP (File), The Stately Southerner - Tim Hart And Maddy Prior - Heritage (CD)