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Holy Grail - Ride The Void

Holy Grail
Ride The Void
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein / Karila "FemmeMetale" Shannis at 10 January 2013, 3:23 PM

Steinmetal (8/10)

Yes I have been waiting for this for quite a while, a new album by the more than just promising Heavy / Power Metal band, HOLY GRAIL, from the US. While waiting I found out that they signed to Nuclear Blast Records (my compliments for the big promotion as it is a huge step). Well I would have signed them myself if I had a label especially after a killer debut like they had back in 2010. Just a reminder, for those who have never heard of this pack of wolves from Pasadena, California, HOLY GRAIL came to be when two ex-members of the NWOBHM style band WHITE WIZZARD, vocalist James-Paul Luna and drummer Tyler Meahl, wanted something a bit fiercer with a punch, modern sounded, but still true to the old British roots. The cause effect of their decision brought over HOLY GRAIL that based its music on melodic British Metal of the early to middle era of the 80s but with the supplementary of an updated sound, modern Metal affiliations recognized from the current US Metal scene. Back to my waiting, it has been three years since “Crisis In Utopia” and now HOLY GRAIL are back with “Ride The Wind”. Tell you the truth I feared the worst because of the second album syndrome. Generally, I had something to based my distress on and I think that “Ride The Wind” showed it thus making it a bit low rated than its previous.

For one thing, HOLY GRAIL still have the energies as a youth band. Furthermore, the guys, with their unstoppable blinking towards vintage Metal, didn’t seem too afraid to experiment more upon infusing old with new. I am not merely talking about the production, which this time seemed slightly more polished and compressed than earlier; I am referring to the musical concept. For some reason I had 3 INCHES OF BLOOD stuck to my head as a clear alignment while trying to make my mind about the material I listened to on this album. Without a doubt there is a wide selection of impressive stuff, throughout thirteen tracks, with plenty of varied riffing, incredible passages, assorted singing that even allowed a few growl versed here and there made with finesse, yet occasionally it came to me that HOLY GRAIL might still be looking for evenness, a steady pattern to their music. That is why I felt that “Ride The Wind” is like a test for me, the listener, regarding which pattern of the band I like more whether it is the melodic Heavy Metal with occasional speedy Power Metal outburst or modernized shadow that looms from time to time bulging with kickdowns and grooves. All in all, the crew made sure that every track will attempt to stick, become a memorable piece of existence in one’s head, a catch phrase or a successful jingle. Too marketable you think? Maybe, but the music played out to be way too assorted for that purpose. But I could be wrong.

Keeping the same vibes throughout the tracks with their reach out to be one with the audience, HOLY GRAIL composed some great tracks that proved that talent is just a word and musicianship is the real deal over here. “Crosswinds”, slamming harshly, thrashy even, while inflicting pain, great tough riffing, classic clean vocals performance all through the track, especially the chorus, a fine layer of growls and coercive soloing as always. Not too much techy stuff here, but still a good prospect. “Take It To The Graves” keeps the same pattern of a speedy track, yet a bit more melodic and more Heavy Metal oriented. An awesome track nonetheless with a MAIDENish catchy chorus. “Archeus”, though an instrumental opener, but boy what a heart, a clear theatrical introductory, damn I loved it. Tracks as “Ride The Wind”, “Bestia Triumphans”, “Dark Passenger” (Dexter or Comics) and “Too Decayed to Wait” also quality tracks but I would say that those are on the boarder of fillers as HOLY GRAIL stuck more or less to the same song patterns while also recycle a bit of themselves, it didn’t bother me that much but it bugged a bit on a few tracks. In short, a great melodic Metal album in the vein of IRON MAIDEN, the modern elements on display did good for the band as always, I liked the experimentations and the courage, well produced but still a bit far behind the debut.

FemmeMetale (7/10)
A band like HOLY GRAIL is truly one of a kind, especially in this modern day scene where Emo-Prog-Core hot messes have been threatening to dethrone the timeless authentic Metal styles created by veterans such as JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN.  For those of you who have only heard the term “Holy Grail” used with the words “Monty Python”, do yourself a favor: turn away from your battle with the killer rabbit and go pick up a copy of the band’s sophomore album, "Ride The Void".

For those of you who are new to the sounds of HOLY GRAIL, this album will shape up to be a melodic masterpiece as clean and precise as your brand new Christmas knife kitchen set.  Unlike their first release "Crisis In Utopia","Ride The Void" seems to embody a much more comprehensive musical and lyrical structure. “Too Decayed To Wait” blasts god-like guitar riffs in your ears that will have your head spinning.  The title track is a phenomenal work, with megalodon-sized echoes of bass that made my eardrums bulge in ecstasy. Tyler Meahl is a stellar drummer, and it contributes greatly to the album’s grooving pulse. With Matt Hyde (SLAYER, CHILDREN OF BODOM) taking the reins in the production realm, current HOLY GRAIL fans will notice that the songs have been structured into organized lyrical concepts with solid musical structure. But for huge "Crisis In Utopia" fans like me, HOLY GRAIL’s obvious parting from “Crisis In Utopia 2” is slightly saddening.

I say this because in my mind, "Crisis In Utopia" was unlike any modern Metal album I had ever heard. James Paul Luna’s vocals screamed in the most sonically pleasing ways, and Eli Santana and former guitarist Ian Scott created some of the most glorious harmonizing riffs ever to grace the ears of humanity. Every song on that album is as unique to one another as a set of fingerprints. The production was nothing grandiose, but the ravishing musicianship of each member was enough to enrapture every listener. Luna’svocals on "Ride The Void" seemed somewhat diminished on tracks like “Dark Passenger” and “Bestius Triumphans”, and in my mind, didn’t showcase what I know he can do live and what I have heard on "Crisis In Utopia". Some songs sounded more progressive than traditional; some vocal and rhythm tracks seemed milder than before; but overall, I would recommend this album for its solidity in structure, its quality in production, and because this band freaking rules.

4 Star Rating

1. Archeus
2. Bestia Triumphans
3. Dark Passenger
4. Bleeding Stone
5. Ride TheVoid
6. Too Decayed to Wait
7. Crosswinds
8. Take It to the Grave
9. Sleep of Virtue
10. Silence the Scream
11. The Great Artifice
12. Wake Me When It's Over
13. Rains of Sorrow
James-Paul Luna- Vocals
Eli Santana- Lead Guitar
Alex Lee- Lead Guitar
Tyler Meahl- Drums
Blake Mount- Bass
Record Label: Nuclear Blast / Prosthetic Records


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