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Holy Grail - Ride the Void (Prosthetic Records)

By: Matt Coe

[9/10] They say you have a lifetime to write your first album, then after crisscrossing the highways domestic and abroad touring to support said product, the record label wants you to deliver a follow-up quicker than you desire. For California’s Holy Grail, the time has come to turn on the songwriting afterburners for the second effort. And dare I say the 13 tracks on Ride the Void not only parallel the quality present on 2010’s Crisis In Utopia, there are significant upticks that could place the band in bonafide headline status.

Breaking in ex-Bonded by Blood guitarist Alex Lee while on the road in 2011, the quintet appear determined to eradicate any thought that this band’s aim is solely retro-based and squarely on developing a product for today’s generation to champion. Some of the guitar licks and shredding ability from Lee and fellow guitarist Eli Santana takes the platform of Megadeth and Annihilator to new heights of brilliance - much like Helstar would do in the late 80’s with Nosferatu, there is some serious jaw to the floor, wrist spraining moments within “Take It to the Grave” and “The Great Artifice."

James-Paul Luna takes the seasoning of the road and translates the right emphasis on proper phrasing with many of the verses and choruses within the album. “Rains of Sorrow” is as close to a ballad as you’ll probably hear from Holy Grail, and his lower range carries this emotional tornado that swirls about against Tyler Meahl’s subtle drum tempo and the bottom end bass work of Blake Mount. Conversely “Bestial Triumphans” allows the listener to hear Luna at the peak of his high range, while the call and response verse work in relation to the music reminds me of Dee Snider circa “What You Don’t Know” from Under the Blade.

This isn’t the traditional metal template of your parents’ marketplace when Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Accept ruled the airwaves. Holy Grail attack with technique in a slightly modern fashion- almost as if Megadeth circa Rust In Peace could be given a 2013 makeover. Current picks for my discriminate tastes: the mid-tempo gallop of “Dark Passenger” and the clean to electric contrasts present for “Sleep of Virtue."

Ride the Void could be the ticket to Holy Grail’s ascension up the metal ranks.

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