Release DetailsLABEL Osmose Productions
RELEASED ON 8/23/2005
posted on 8/2005 By:
After a three year recording hiatus, during which time members of the band pursued other projects, Ritual Carnage have returned with their fourth effort, I, Infidel. Having remembered the band’s second effort, Every Nerve Alive, as a nice chunk of metal, I was pleased to receive this new album for review. Like that album, I, Infidel is a bristling, aggressive platter of old school thrash. However, you’ll note that the songwriting gauge at the top of the review is stalled out on half a tank, rather than full, so clearly something is amiss. Unfortunately, what makes this album such a maddening effort is the vocal performance of Danny (Carnage) Montgomery, the American frontman of this otherwise Japanese four piece. On previous efforts Carnage used a deep growl that was rather mundane but commonplace in the genre. It seems that the theory is that cleaner, higher registered vocals would both draw some distinction between the band and their competition, as well as accentuate the band’s vintage leanings. Unfortunately, a less conspicuous vocal approach was a better strategy, as the attention this performance gets will be for all the wrong reasons. It sounds as if Carnage is going for a Sean Killian/Joey Belladonna sound, but just doesn’t have a voice suited to the style. Vocalist limitations aren’t exactly unique in metal, but these are also monotonous and simply homogenously flawed, as the vocal lines are entirely too repetitive and are also too high in the mix. As a result, his fingernails-on-the-chalkboard vocals entirely hamstring an otherwise promising thrash album.
Those who can somehow manage to block out the howling vocals will be rewarded with some eyebrow raising thrash that is respectfully old school while remaining contemporary and relevant. The band keeps the throttle on high, maintaining a breakneck pace for nearly all of the thirty-five minute run time. On “Do Not Resuscitate” they slow down to a mid-paced riff fest that provides some welcome variety without letting up on the punch. Album closer “I Am War” is another of the stronger moments, and like the majority of songs, deals with contemporary issues of war and terrorism.
Rarely have I heard an album with such a marked discrepancy between the quality of music and vocals. Ritual Carnage has a good deal to offer, and those who aren’t turned off by the vocals will no doubt love this album. But most of you should check out Every Nerve Alive or The Birth of Tragedy. Lets hope that if Ritual Carnage gets around to album number five they find a way to use vocals that are as equally impressive as their music, or at least stay the hell out of the way.
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