Ritual Carnage - Every Nerve Alive (2000)
With their hi-octane approach Ritual Carnage rev it up and leap out of the blocks, accelerating quickly to high speed riffing and barely ever let their foot off the gas with only the penultimate track, Escape From the Light, offering any real slowing of the pace. Personally I feel that track would have been better left until the end as it would have rounded the speedfest off better as a closer rather than expecting the actual closer, Far East Aggressors, to pick up the pace again (and suffering for it, I feel). There is loads to like about Every Nerve Alive, which in itself seems a more than apt title for the music contained within. The riffs are king here and although there is very little by way of originality, they are executed with passion and integrity and are intended to tempt you to rupture your neck muscles! Vocalist Damian Montgomery (aka Nasty Danny) has a great harsh growl that fits the aggressive nature of the riffing perfectly and only really dips on the aforementioned slower track, Escape From the Light, where his clean singing is exposed a little.
The band as a whole is exceedingly tight and the bass and drums solidly support the breakneck pacing without doing anything extraordinary. The solos are fine I suppose, but are the least remarkable part of the album for me, quite often just passing me by and unless I was really concentrating I didn't notice them so much until they had actually finished! However, overall this is a very good slab of energetic and brutal-sounding thrash that I would date around '91/'92 if I didn't know it was from 2000 when thrash was supposedly dead. I guess Ritual Carnage never got the memo!
I'm sure you already know what I think of this release without having to wait for my synopsis Ben as it's clearly right up my alley. I first encountered this Japanese thrash metal outfit on the tail end of my tape trading years through their debut album "The Highest Law" & seem to recall that it took up the B-side of a cassette that had Witchery's "Restless & Dead" album on the other side if I'm not mistaken. I remember quite liking it although I don't think it commanded too many replays after the first few listens. It was enough to have me flicking through this sophomore album when I returned to metal in 2009 though & I found "Every Nerve Alive" to more than satisfy my thrash metal itch by well & truly living up to its title. I haven't returned to it since for one reason or another but needless to say that I'm very glad I have now because this record poses a strong challenge to Sabbat in regard to the Japanese thrash crown.
You won't find anything too original here. In fact, you'll regularly find yourself picking out riffs that have been copped from Slayer, Kreator or Dark Angel albums but the material is played with conviction & authenticity throughout & it's clear that Ritual Carnage have a deep understanding of the classic thrash metal ethos. Despite many people online wanting to tag "Every Nerve Alive" as death/thrash there really isn't much death metal here apart from one section of "Escape From the Light" which reminds me very much of Bolt Thrower. The vocals are certainly gruff but I don't think that overcomes the fact that musically Ritual Carnage rarely stray from the thrash metal blueprint. They admittedly champion a pretty brutal thrash sound though & one that draws equally from the more extreme US bands & the rawer Teutonic scene. Closing track "Far East Aggressors" is the only track that deviates from that model much, instead opting for a more simplistic attempt at speed metal & unfortunately failing in this endeavor but I really dig the rest of "Every Nerve Alive" with "Death, Judgement, Fate" being the clear highlight & representing a truly classic Japanese thrash metal track in its own right. Despite some pretty cool guitar solos, the riff structures & drumming can often sound a little basic but if you enjoy the more extreme end of thrash then you can do a lot worse than "Every Nerve Alive".
For fans of Slayer, Kreator & Morbid Saint.