Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mantic Ritual--Executioner

The other night, I was hanging with my good buddy the WZA'd at his ridiculous bachelor pad on West Campus.  In between spells of standing idly in the rain watching college students amble past and marveling at how loud small groups of college students can be on the streets of Austin on a Saturday night, we spent our time nerding out to music.  This is a standard hang-out session for us, but this one was different.  After enduring some of the dumbest sludge that the WZA'd was able to conjure from the Interbung, we got on an olde schoole thrash kick.  We rocked select tasty tracks from Slayer (Undisputed Attitude, FTW), Motorhead (not thrash, but still) and Metallica's first three albums (oh my God, they used to be so good).  We then spoke philosophically of why WZA'd doesn't like Municipal Waste (they "just kind of sound...false") and why his love for the band Nails dried up so quickly ("the singer is a COP.  FUCK THAT GUY").  Like I said, total nerd status.

This foray into the olde schoole reminded me of a stellar release by a band called Mantic Ritual.  I stumbled upon them at a show last year at Red 7, and I have no idea anymore who they played with, but I do remember being blown away by their thrash attack.  It had all the best aspects of thrash, including kind-of-clean vocals being spouted by the single skinniest person who never just emerged from a German death camp in the 1940's and solos that were cartoonishly shreddy, as if Bugs Bunny picked up a guitar, got a Prince Albert, and started a band whose singular purpose was to bang the hottest leather-clad, teased-hair groupies of 1984.  I was in love.  Three days after the show, I was enduring a trip to the mall with my wife.  She did whatever women do at the mall while I perused the 10-foot metal section at FYE, and I happened upon Mantic Ritual's album, Executioner.  I was forced to purchase it immediately, because my brain is broken and doesn't always remember that I can instantly steal music from the Interbung with literally no repercussions.  But that's neither here nor there.

Executioner is awesome.  I started listening to it the next day in my work van, reliving the night I saw them like a wonderful dream full of long-haired crusties and obscure T-shirts.  My waking coma continued through the exceptionally long foray I was taking into the Texas small-town underbelly, which is ripe with really nice people who have been rendered unreasonable and crazy by the throes of imminent death.  Again, neither here nor there.

My first impression of the album is that it was adequately fast and the soloing just as shreddy as I remembered.  My second impression of the album was "they have a song called 'Thrashatonement,'" which is extremely lame even by my generous standards.  My third impression was "holy crap, how long is this damn album?!?"  Pushing an hour, the album begins as a refreshing sojourn into the hallowed 80's, when punk rock was still good and metal didn't have to lean so hard on detuned guitars, blast beats and Satan to be frightening to adults.  However, the album begins to feel slightly labored after about the half-hour mark, and it pushes on for almost 25 minutes (!!?!??!) past that.  The songs are still pretty good, but there aren't any songs that are adequately epic on the album to justify being 8 minutes long, and the album itself is not nearly so powerful that it truly justifies being almost a full hour long.  I mean, not even Gojira's The Way of All Flesh (which I love) feels like it really pulls off it's 70+ minute running time, and they aren't worshiping bands whose days of being good are a solid 20 years in the past.

However, Executioner does plenty correctly to make up for the laboriously long running time.  It strokes the D-boner in just the right way (on the underside, where it's most sensitive) and plays to my "more is more" attitude about soloing without being extensively wanky (as if there is such a thing as that).  Think about what Metallica might have done if they stayed a thrash band moving into the 90's, but started running out of songs strong enough to be on another Master of Puppets.  Don't get me wrong; I really like this album.  But there is a pretty strong aping of legacy bands that could hamper the enjoyment of certain groups.  However, this album falls under the umbrella of music that my wife lovingly refers to as "not as horrible as the other stuff you listen to," so you can take that for the shining endorsement of high quality that it is.

You can easily steal this off the Interbung if you want; I won't provide a link this time because I have to go to work.

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