Sadistic Ritual – The Enigma, Boundless Review

Thrash that brings something new? So much has happened in this year of 2022 that I’ll believe about anything. Alas, my hopes remain high despite our resident shusher, Dr. A.N. Grier, willfully relinquishing the right to this curiously spiked morsel of raucous riffs. Though neither a fan of hugs nor happiness, D.A.N.G. found himself mildly enthused with the last output from these Atlanta-based thrashers, even if they sounded a lot like Kreator. Well, I’m here to say that these guys still sound like Kreator, but blackened a degree further and doused graciously with echo-inducing, signal-tripping pedal-work—psychedelic thrash, I suppose. Just like the edibles your buddy says will put you on a new plane, the entheogenic nature of The Enigma, Boundless may not be quite as potent as advertised.

The unsettling and hypnotic mood of proper psychedelia takes careful effort to capture, and I don’t think Sadistic Ritual nailed that here. However, in their vision quest, they’ve stumbled upon a blackened thrash sound that comes off more as a peer to earlier Sarke releases than it does to riff junkies like Skumstrike. In part, this also may be that our Southern heroes lead with inspiration from progressive acts like Kreator and Sadus, the latter having the larger presence of influence compared to their previous outing Visionaire of Death. Altogether, the modern mélange of lightly palm-muted riffs, mid-cutting bass, and harmonic minor leads brings to mind an elevated idea of the traditional Big Four sound (“End of All Roads,” “Area Denial”) regardless of whether the sonic ingestion causes a cosmic uproar.

While the use of higher levels of reverb and delay across many layers is far from novel in the metalsphere, Sadistic Ritual does a good job with the concept to expand their sound from the unfortunately dry and compressed realm of lesser thrash. The exploration does not land without a drawback or two, though. Album highlights like “Murmur” or “Maelstrom of Consciousness” make smart use of effects to build the swirling, tilted atmosphere we would expect from something mind-altering. In particular, the level of hallucinatory heaviness applied to Charlie Southern’s tortured rasp gives these tracks a certain post-apocalyptic haze. However, when more driving tunes pick up the pace, and the devastatingly wet riffs start slapping (“And You…,” “Raving Voyeurism”), the soundscape turns to mud and ultimately limits the effectiveness of the attack.

Thankfully, Southern shines not only on vocals but throughout as the lead axeman. His colorful style rivals the kaleidoscopic cover art,  even allowing some good ol’ slide noodling to shine on “The Blood of Memory.” Wasting no moment on opener “End of All Roads,” he plays around with touch-and-go natural harmonics to create an infectious refrain that culminates in a Friedman-kissed solo. That same bag of tricks, in turn, helps the frenetic “Dire Avidity” exist as a righteous burst of energy before the exploratory mid-section of The Enigma, Boundless. I do wish, though, that Southern had planted both feet in the more abstract waters of the effects-led breaks found on “Area Denial” and “Enigma, Boundless,” where the desire to expand the consciousness extends to the tripped-out leads.

Not yet can I say that Sadistic Ritual has realized the full potential of their attempt at interstellar incantations. As a thrash album, The Enigma, Boundless has solid merit, and in a day and age where the most iconic albums of the genre are 30+ years old, it can be tough to make a major impact. In that regard, they’ve chosen a wise, new path to follow since their debut, which was less innovative but equally solid. Similarly, they continue to keep things nice and tight in the face of experimentation, eschewing the previous misstep of the dreaded too-long closing epic. I’m glad they didn’t simply go for well-executed thrash twice, and with a little more time, they may achieve the lift off they’ve promised.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 20th, 2022

« »