Goddamn, I’ve reviewed a lot of black metal this year. Not that I’m upset about it. But, since joining this illustrious website of snobbery and pretentiousness five years ago, my yearly average is higher than it’s ever been. Is it due to Grier selling out and over-rating the under-rated albums of 2019? Oh, hell no, you over-commenting sonsofbitches. It’s because I’m blessed to review bands like Istapp, Darkthrone, and Vous Autres.1 Over-rater, I am not. Over-editor? Well, yeah, look at what I have to work with here!2 But, in hopes of lowering my average for the year3 and giving my black, swollen head a rest,4 I closed my eyes and reached into the scorpion-infested grog box that is the AMG Promo Bin. And out I pulled Atlanta’s only Kreator-inspired thrash metal band, Sadistic Ritual.5 With Visionaire of Death as the title of their full-length debut, this can’t be good, right? So, here’s to a lower annual average and smack-talk word-smithing.
Wait… what in the holy fuck is this?? Visionaire of Death is good! Well… fuck me.
Ok, so, it turns out, even when I blinding grab from the Box of Pain, I can get lucky. If left with only the random collection of EPs, demos, and live recordings from Sadistic Ritual, things would be different. But, as it turns out, this vicious four-piece has been brewing a nasty beverage in the dark alleys of Braves Country for quite some time. And here it is. Using Pleasure to Kill-era Kreator as a foundation, Sadistic Ritual pack in the riffs and solo work of everything from Sodom and Demolition Hammer to Exodus and Metallica to Power Trip and Toxic Holocaust. Using minimal melodics and a shitload of hostility, Visionaire of Death savages your body with ten, sharp knives for a relentless thirty-eight minutes. Visionaire of Death is “Merciless Retribution” and “Mutually Assured Destruction” combined.
Now, don’t get too hyped. It’s inevitable that this ridiculous amount of clickbait would result in a “good” record. And a good record Visionaire of Death is. Opening with its to-the-point title track, Sadistic Ritual reminds me of the energy Kreator had when Satan and death ruled their imagery. Its simple and sinister atmospheres fill the air with sardonic cries of laughter, backed by a forest of bleeding black, rasping pitch. Follow-up track, “…in Cold Blood,” is also of the Kreator type. Yet, it’s full of surprises. After a clever, Testamental introduction, this three-minute ditty evolves more than most of the six-minute thrash pieces out there. “Malicious Misanthrope” is similar in approach, but uses a smidgeon of melody and a vicious vocal performance to lay all in its path to waste. The solos are passionate and the transitioning riff toward the end is worth the cortisone shots.
Closer, “Cerebral Sacrifice,” is another with melodic tinges to support its power-packed solos and eye-opening acoustic outro. It’s the “epic” of the album and showcases all the deathy and thrashy elements of the record. Yet, even with an eight-minute runtime, the shorter “Executioner,” “Double Crossed,” “Merciless Retribution,” and “Mutually Assured Destruction” have more staying power. The first is Sodom-fare if I’ve ever heard it. It combines riffage that uses full fretboard riffage and drum hits that surely snapped a dozen sticks in the studio. Again, the solo work has me dumbfounded and the closing Kill ‘Em All-inspired lick puts a sick smile on my face. “Double Crossed” and “Merciless Retribution” are the most memorable, as far as choruses go. The former opens with some Exodus and ends in Power Trip hell. The latter—with its forgettable Ghoulish intro track, “Death Shriek,” to lead the way—combines spitting vox with riffs as heavy as the Demolition Hammer-esque ones of “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Throw in some gang shouts and a sick bass-lead that inspires a final mosh-pit massacre and any black-boned thrasher will be pleased.
That said, the title track is simplistic and predictable; “Civil Unrest” is a fun, yet forgettable, gang-shouting piece of Toxic Holocaust; “Death Shriek” is useless and meandering; and the closer has more potential than what it delivered. Of these, though, the opener and closer are still solid pieces and better than many of its ilk. Regardless, Sadistic Ritual‘s Visionaire of Death destroys all their previous EPs and demos. It’s short, smart, and filled to the brim with a lot of fun influences. So, if you’ve got forty minutes to spare and want to break some shit, follow the Visionaire.
- Note, dear AMGer, I have still yet to give a band a 4.5/5.0 during this doctoral reign. ↩
- Eat shit, Ferrous. ↩
- Ha! That’s not a thing, btw. Idiots. ↩
- Again, pervs. ↩
- I don’t know if that’s actually true but wtf are the odds a band like this lives in Georgia? ↩
- This is where you can actually find songs from the band’s new record. ↩