One of the only things more exciting for me than realizing I missed a release from one of my favourite labels is discovering that it’s a thrash release that passed by me. This sets the scene for Sadistic Ritual’s “Edge of the Knife” EP, which was put out by Unspeakable Axe Records in July 2015. As the cover art implies, this release is pure violence. Not unlike bands such as Kreator or Razor, Sadistic Ritual aims to verbally and musically slash your throat with their vicious riffs and maniacal, crazed vocals. From start to finish, “Edge of the Knife” is a release that unleashes vast amounts of aggression, and never stops. It isn’t quite a hyperspeed release in the way that bands like Sadus or label mates Besieged employ, but is instead more of a balanced thrash attack. The primary difference between those bands and Sadistic Ritual lies primarily in the drumming, as this band’s drummer has quite a bit more variety in the beats he plays. The ability to mix things up leads to numerous great moments throughout the CD.
The opening track, “Merciless Retribution”, spends quite a bit of time thrashing your neck away before transitioning into a death metal-influenced passage, complete with tremolo picking and blast beats. The very next track, “Funeral Raid”, utilizes shredding that is much cleaner than the buzzsaw-esque rhythm guitar tone that the EP uses. This makes for a nice contrast, as it shows some variety on an otherwise savage release. Another highlight is “Restless Dead”. As the name implies, the riffs on this song are truly restless, with the track features some of the most energetic riffs on the record. The title track continues this crusade by featuring a riff supported by a quarter note bass drum pump-up. The result is a section that will make you want to break everything around you, in true Paul Baloff fashion.
“Edge of the Knife” utilizes a standard assault when it comes to thrashing. Their riffs are by no means unique. Similarly, their vocal approach sounds like an Americanized version of Mille Petrozza’s visceral attack. Nonetheless, this sound is effective because Sadistic Ritual has so much conviction. Never content with the riff they’re playing, the band always strives to find something more brutal. It cannot be overemphasized how much “Edge of the Knife” is aided by its production. As noted above, the rhythm guitars are razor sharp, and the remaining instruments similarly straddle the line between sounding way better than their 1980s counterparts, and not sounding like an overproduced modern thrash release. This approach makes the band sound incredibly tight as they shred out riffs immense speed. Overall, this EP was a pleasant surprise because it is another take on a familiar sound. There are plenty of bands who are sonically similar to Sadistic Ritual, but few are this compelling.
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"Edge of the Knife"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott