You've all heard the story. A group of fresh-faced and leather-clad youngsters leave behind the daily grind of their blue-collar hometown and head west in hot pursuit of the 'dream.' Many who make the journey wake up to a nightmare filled with disappointment, two-dollar hookers and cheap blow, but others actually manage to see through the smog and make a name for themselves. For Pittsburgh's MANTIC RITUAL, leaving the Iron City for the metal scene of L.A. was not only a wise move for the band, who quickly found a home with Nuclear Blast, but also for thrash loyalists who can finally walk the streets again ever since the musical time machine set itself to pre-1990.Even the most talked out members of the New Wave Of American Thrash Metal still manage to, even if unintentionally, incorporate elements of modern metal into their sound. Everything from melodic death to metallic hardcore has seen its fingerprints left on the 2k thrash attack, but MANTIC RITUAL have managed to keep their ears shut for the last twenty-years. From the barrage of galloping riffs to the Belladonna-meets-Baloff mannerisms of guitarist/vocalist Dan Wetmore, "Executioner" is a brand new lesson in violence that few bands of this age are equipped to teach. While this faithfulness does give way to a few obviously recognizable moments, such as those heard on "Black Tar Sin" and "Next Attack", it could be justified by saying the band is just reminding the newbies that METALLICA and ANTHRAX did indeed exist before the Grammy selection committee knew who they were. Oh hell, who are we kidding? It's impossible to think that the rebirth of a genre that damn near drove itself into the ground a decade and a half ago (let's face it, by the mid-90's thrash had become what metalcore is today) could come to fruition without mass amounts of the original masters' DNA. Throughout "Executioner", the likes of classic EXODUS, SLAYER and SEPULTURA are going to come to mind, but these boys play it off like they've been standing alongside the aforementioned the whole time. Besides the obvious elements of talent, inspiration and knowledge of the genre, what separates a good thrash revival band from a complete joke isn't a question that can be answered with witty descriptors. It's something that only the band can prove with guitars in hand. It's about passion, chemistry and intensity; three things that MANTIC RITUAL bleed buckets of on this eleven-track slab of no-frills thrash madness.
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