Holy Grail - Ride the void 4.5/5

Reviewed: 4-1-13


1. Archeus
2. Bestia triumphans
3. Dark passenger
4. Bleeding stone
5. Ride the void
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

From beginning to end, the sophomore release from Pasadena’s Holy Grail is a magnificently crafted, painstakingly polished work of melodic metal, blending the classic spirit of NWOBHM with a devastating and diverse guitar attack that bridges thrash, power metal, and neo-classical shred. Every element of the CD, from production to lyrics, to the instrumental songwriting, to the vocal harmonies is sublime, and leaves you beaming with the current status of American heavy metal.

The CD simply takes all that was good about its predecessor and improves upon it however possible. James-Paul Luna’s vocals have that emphasis upon smooth melody above all else, the strongest note of the NWOBHM influence that is reminiscent of bands like Sacred Rite, more so than the histrionics of Halford or Tate, but his repertoire is complete and there still is plenty of power and variety in the often richly layered voices. Most importantly, song after song pulls you in quickly at first with the vocal melodies, but involves you more and more on a deeper level with each subsequent listen. Bassist Blake Mount provides the deep resonance for the bands complex rhythms that have been interlaced so well, together with drummer Tyler Meahl, and helped by the clear, precise production which is everything you could want in a metal CD. The album was meticulously thorough in their pre-production before going in to the studio, and it shows.

The guitar work is breathtaking, an incredible array of astounding lead runs, blended with crisp and devastating aggressive riffs. Alex Lee is the newcomer to the band from Bonded by Blood whom they toured with previously, while Eli Santana is the mainstay on the axe, with the band from the beginning. His diverse musical influences and experience are focused thoroughly through the lens of heavy metal, and the combination is undeniable.

I’ve lost the ability to define what “era” we’re now in for heavy metal (given the “new” wave of heavy metal referenced above is now over 30 years old), but this is an incredible time for United States heavy metal. Holy Grail is part of incredible talented outpouring of bands releasing such superbly crafted CDs, with bands like Seven Kingdoms and Gothic Knights near perfecting their craft, and new bands like Inner Siege and Vacant Throne beginning promising careers. Best of all, the common theme is quality and metal glory, but each is developing their own precise sound and spirit that keeps them their own.

Any fan of heavy metal in almost any of its traditional and melodic forms cannot pass up this superb CD.




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