September 9, 2008 | | 3.5

Head On Collision, Ritual Sacrifice

I know it’s getting to be that point with this thrash revivalist movement. I do love me some thrash, but even I am starting to lose patience in many of the new wave of thrash bands that are attempting to relive my youth with a modern crossover sound. Luckily, this Missouri band decided to channel the darker more sinister sounds of early Slayer with their own take on thrash metal.

The production is clean, but that doesn’t make Ritual Sacrifice‘s sound any less violent, raw and evil. This thing is like a sucker punch to the throat and definitely separates itself from the glut of thrash posers that abound in the metal scene today. Sure, the album isn’t revolutionary as the band leans heavily on Slayer’s early albums, but it’s still refreshing nonetheless.

Arise From The Wreckage
The album’s opening track is all instrumental, but is essentially a complete song without vocals — not some sissy acoustic crap with backing orchestra. This thing is reminiscent of Obituary’s “Redneck Stomp” from Frozen in Time. Hell, it’s even got a fairly scorching lead buried deep in the pummeling rhythms and crushing riffs.

Violence And Aggression
Thick riffs and animalistic drums get this one off to a bruising start. The track is high energy with a quick pace and raw, gruff vocals. Man, this thing is unrelenting with quick vocal bursts and driving riffs. There’s definitely a Slayerful of inspiration tucked into every orifice of this song, and I’m perfectly cool with that.

A deep riff gets this next one moving along as steady drums come in. The initial pace is mid-tempo to showcase the opening lead and vocals. The pace finally picks up around the 1:25 mark with driving drums and unrelenting guitars. Along with the Slayer influences on this track there’s also a good bit of early Testament thrown in for good measure. It’s a nice combination that work’s in the band’s favor.

Enemy Lines
“Enemy Lines” starts off with heavy drums and decent riff work as the band builds to a frenzied pace. I love the aggressive pace to Head On Collision. It’s like a barracuda let loose in a goldfish bowl — a raging blur of snapping jaws.

God Hand
Evil is the name of the game with the onset of the riffs of “God Hand.” There’s a slick lead that comes in just before the 30 second mark that is dripping vehemence, just as the pace is ratcheted up a notch to armageddon speeds. There’s another decent lead after the 3:10 mark that’s nearly drowned out by some seriously thundering drum work.

Permanent Damage
Thick bass fades in from out of no where as thick drums and riffing join in shortly after the start of the track. This mid-tempo opening has some nice groove as the band shifts into flesh searing speeds. I love the vocals on this album. They remind me a bit of the latest from of Lair of the Minotaur.

A memorable bit of riffing and solid drum work open up “Fear” for a bit before a higher pace kicks in your teeth with a huge scream. The vocals on this one are at a slightly different pitch and that would make sense since it’s the studio bass player screeching out the black metal inspired vocals.

I love the way the drums fade in on this next song as beefy riffs join in shortly after. I definitely much prefer the lead vocals on this one than the guest spot on “Fear.” McCauley’s vocals have a much deeper presence and therefore a more aggressive feel to my ears. This mid-tempo piece is nicely varied song with soulful leads and driving drums.

Reap The Weak
Thick riffs and beefy drums keep the blood flowing with thundering blasts. The vocals are a bit quicker on this one as the drum continue to bludgeon while the guitars peal skin from the bone. Head On Collision keep with their Slayer inspired formula and deliver blow after repeated blow to your cranium and spine with terminal results.

The Flames Of Aggression
“The Flames of Aggression” starts off with some manic riffing and beastial drumming. There’s a great head banging groove to this one that should have you spraining your neck midway through the song (if you haven’t already done so by now). There’s a series of slick leads after the three minute mark that fit right in with the pummeling drums.

Ritual Sacrifice
The final, and title, track on Ritual Sacrifice starts off with a darker, yet slower bit of guitar work. The drums settle in at a mid-tempo pace after about 30 seconds and continue chugging along through a slick lead around the 1:15 mark. I love the 180 degree shift at the 3:00 minute mark. It’s totally unexpected, but fits perfectly.

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A few of the other reviews out there for this album panned it. Sure, it’s not ground breaking, but it is a refreshing boot to the head when compared to some of the mediocre new school meets old school thrash bands out there. It’s dark, aggressive and raw without the goofy Municipal Waste (I love the Waste, by the way) copycat feel. In fact, this disc has been in constant rotation since I received it several weeks ago. Take that for what you will.

Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: