By Matt Hinch
The whole “trad metal” thing doesn’t seem to be slowing down does it? I don’t imagine it’s likely to when quality bands like Holy Grail put out albums those with an old school affinity can latch right on to. Ride the Void is the second full length from these jean-vested Californian long hairs, and it pretty much picks up where debut Crisis in Utopia left off.
After the requisite instrumental intro epically builds upon itself, Holy Grail hit the ground running with “Bestia Triumpans”. The band really lays it on the line right away, showing off their multitude of assets. Guitarists Eli Santana and Alex Lee (ex-Bonded by Blood) put on a veritable clinic with their dexterity and blazing speed. But it’s not all just pedal to the metal thrash/NWOBHM riffage. Holy Grail mix in some more modern elements so there is no doubt this is a current production. There are parts that could almost be considered breakdowns as well as the odd djenty bit. Coupled with the modern sounding double kick of drummer Tyler Meahl, HG pulls off a balance of classic aesthetic with modern flair.
That aesthetic is strengthened by singer James-Paul Luna. His clean vocals dominate the mix without overpowering the other members. Huge choruses are his bread and butter, although there’s a fair share of pseudo-ballad moments and even a smattering of harsher screams. But it’s the soaring choruses and the riffs that accompany them that are catchy to the point of ridiculousness. Nothing wrong with that really other than after a while it all starts to sound the same. Big chorus, speedy guitars, face-melting solos, rinse, repeat. Which makes Blake Mount’s watery bass in “Silence the Scream” stand out all the more.
For all it’s worth, Ride the Void is a pretty good album. It’s catchy. You can sing to it, and the musicianship is top notch. It’s inoffensive and has enough redeeming qualities to appeal to most metalheads. Yet as stated, it all blurs together after a while. Ride the Void all you want. It’s mad fun. But remember there are other attractions waiting for you too.
Side note: I wondered if they named the band Holy Grail because their shredding melts faces like in that Indiana Jones movie but I was thinking of the wrong movie. Ark of the Covenant doesn’t have the same ring to it.