Kill Ritual – The Opaque and the Divine (Dissonance Productions)Thursday, 23rd April 2020
Following the demise of Imagika in 2010, guitarist Steve Rice started Kill Ritual and went in a bit heavier direction stylistically – embracing more of his power/thrash desires. Now up to their fifth album, The Opaque and the Divine features probably the most potent vocalist to date for the group in Chalice Blood (aka Brian Betterton), in turn allowing the group to probably take a few more sonic twists due to possessing a frontman with solid chops and multi-octave abilities.
The progressive bass mechanics of David Alusik allow for some calmer and reflective clean guitar action during the early verses of “Dear God” before settling into a nice, heavy anthem – Chalice able to channel his inner Warrel Dane from lower resonance to high pitched screams. Classical acoustic guitar movements against a keyboard strain gives “Praise the Dead” an interesting King Diamond-esque twist, before ramping things up into a Savatage-like musical hook as the forceful melodies and solid, stomping tempo take control – Steve adding in some key harmony sequences and a savage, yet vivid lead break that can be shredding one measure, then intuitive to the melody the next. With some of the longer songs such as the almost eight-minute “Veil of the Betrayer”, there’s a feeling that some of the extraneous set ups with keyboards or instrumental sections could have been cut back to get to the heart of the track, but the main riffs and thunderous drumming make for some interesting aural catchiness, especially if you love Yngwie crashing head first into Metal Church. The closer “A Child to Die for Again” has some nifty acoustic/electric blending, layers of harmonies that challenge Chalice to use his expressive lower delivery during the verses and build things up and out – transforming from a ballad into another dynamic piece where you can hear everything from Diary-era Ozzy to early Nevermore in terms of atmosphere and entertaining transitions.
Definitely finding the seasoned vocalist to push Kill Ritual into fresh terrain, this is the best record of the band to date – and that’s a good thing when you’ve been together for a decade striving to attain a following in a crowded, competitive marketplace. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship for this lineup, as the power/thrash combination has enough melody, darkness, and variety to turn heads, and headbang in the process.