Of the many trad-metal revival bands currently putting out releases, Pasadena, California's Holy Grail are definitely my favourite. Formed by ex members of White Wizzard, these guys released an absolute beast of a début album with "Crisis In Utopia" which was well received and praised by many, but I couldn't help wonder if the band could match or hopefully top their first offering. After 2 and a half years of patience, "Ride The Void" arrived on my doorstep. The time had finally arrived.
Opener "Archeus" starts off well as a nice intro track, morphing from a slow section full of harmonics by bursting into life with drums and a catchy melodic guitar line and finally into the end section, full of extravagant sweeps and tasteful soloing.
"Bestia Triumphans" follows on seamlessly and is full of excellent riffing and a truly magnificent solo, the addition of ex-Bonded By Blood guitarist Alex Lee has clearly done the band good. "Dark Passenger" carries on and has an excellent chorus to sing along to.
As the album goes on the riffs and solos only seem to get better. The guitar solos and subsequent breakdown in "Crosswinds" is simply fantastic. The band even tackle a ballad or two this time around with the title track and, and it works very well, full of atmosphere and contrast.
One thing I will say however, is that I would consider this album weaker lyrically than "Crisis In Utopia". Whereas the first album is an album that I could happily sing along the entire way through, some of the lyrics on this track are nowhere near as catchy. The music is as infectious as ever, but I don't find myself belting out every line of every song like I did with the first album, which is a shame, but maybe the lyrics will grow on me later. I'm willing to persevere and hope I enjoy it more. That said, some of the choruses are still excellent on this album, "Dark Passenger", "Crosswinds" and "Sleep Of Virtue" in particular.
"The Great Artifice" is one the thrashiest tracks on the album, and is great at upping the energy. This track, along with "Crosswinds" features a handful of growls thrown in for emphasis, and it actually works rather well.
Once again things are flipped upside with a lovely acoustic interlude in the form of "Wake Me When It's Over". Seguing perfectly into "Rains Of Sorrow", which makes for an absolutely epic closing track, these guys prove why they're the best young trad-metal band going these days. With better production values than cauldron, more vocal chops than White Wizzard in its current form, and definitely more musical ability than most of the competition, these guys just fucking slay. Vocalist James Paul Luna is still on fantastic form, the man has a fantastic set of pipes and knows how to use them, the rhythm section of Blake Mount and Tyler Meahl are spot on once again, and the new guitar duo of Eli Santana and Alex Lee is astonishing. Perfectly in sync and effortlessly technical with fuckloads of melody, these guys have come up with ultimately another belter of an album, and the world deserves to know how good they are. Hail the Grail!!!!
Check this out if: You love traditional heavy metal and want a new band to listen to, or you loved Crisis In Utopia and you're up for round 2.
For fans of: Cauldron, White Wizzard, Dawnbringer, Pharaoh
Ride The Void is out now on Nuclear Blast Records (UK) and Prosthetic Records (US)