Kill Ritual – The Eyes of Medusa (GoldenCore Records)

Sunday, 16th March 2014
Rating: 7/10

A thrash band parading a would-be glam/sleaze rock singer? Like when Watchtower had Jason McMaster before he joined Dangerous Toys? Like that? It’s a sub-parallel, but not all that close – McMaster is one heck of a thrash singer, but the context in which the Bay Area’s Kill Ritual gets down sure is…uh, unique. The band, led by former Imagika guitarist Steven Rice, plays a melody-happy style of thrash, highly evolved and well-constructed, yet the vocals of Josh “Crimson” Gibson evoke visions of Kix going thrash. Remember Kix? “Don’t Close Your Eyes” is the deal. Such is the issue across the board on The Eyes of Medusa, the band’s second album.

For starters, the group’s up-tempo, varied approach to thrash has zero problem translating. The nice string of sideways riff-action on “Hair Trigger” works, same for the down-tuned surge of “Weight of the World” and “Unleashed.” So contextually, Kill Ritual isn’t too far of a shot musically (key word: musically) from what Death Angel are doing at the present time. But Gibson’s approach – like a ready-to-pounce Jack Russell (Great White) or Dean Davidson (Britny Fox; holy crap are we digging into the hair metal bin!) is rife with ill-fitting vocal lines, like the silly rambling about his “black Mercedes” on the aforementioned “Hair Trigger,” or the kitsch-y “Writing on the Wall.”

Dude-man Gibson would hold serve easily in a band with a far different setup, thus spoiling the broth that is Kill Ritual. Now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t relay that melodic vocals in thrash are usually a winner, but Kill Ritual has gone too far, making The Eyes of Medusa one of the year’s first real head-scratchers. Bulletbelts or aqua net? Tough choice. (Not really.)

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