Updated: May 23
Atlanta’s Sadistic Ritual makes one thing abundantly clear with their second full length, The Enigma, Boundless: there is no such thing as fair rules of engagement. From start to finish, every song is total war. The opening track, “End of All Roads," entrenches the listener in a trance-like state, hypnotized between Charlie Southern and Alex Parra’s galloping dual guitars. I absentmindedly chain-smoked joints, absorbing LaMar George’s tremolo picking on bass, and war-drum like percussion provided by drummer, Joe Sweat. As the smoke and psychedelic heavy metal filled the room, visions of modern warfare, dystopian urban war zones, and flashbacks of intense LSD trips were all vividly painted. However, amongst all of the death and chaos, there were moments of brightness; the guitars singing in the distance like a siren luring sailors to their ultimate demise… a brief light of beauty and hope, only to be dashed back against the rocks.
As someone who has been a huge fan of this Atlanta-based four-piece for a long time, it is exciting to see them reach this genre-defying moment in their career. A moment that very few bands will ever have the chance (or ability) to do. They are one of those bands that re-envisions heavy metal music, and a genre so recycled and tried such as thrash. Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love thrash. When it comes to writing guitar myself, that’s usually the easiest metal that flies off the fingers. It’s fun to play, but difficult to write really great thrash anymore. We all know there will never be another “Big Four”, and it’s tiresome to see bands attempting to be such.
One of the reasons I have so much respect for Sadistic— they aren’t trying to be anyone. Even their debut full length, Visionaire of Death, transcended the basic elements of thrash. To lump these dudes into any one or two metal categories would be an injustice to their music and the future of metal as a whole. They state that, with their second LP: “…Dark etheric influences have since pushed the band’s sound into unknown regions as they have traversed the stranger elements of metal… The Enigma, Boundless bludgeons your perception with profound occult truths and declares metaphysical war on the listener…” And I would say they accomplish exactly that.
While thrash might be played out with some bands, this album is filled with some of the tastiest riffs I have heard. The second track, “And You…” is filled with blackened-thrash influence, ending on a guitar solo straight out of the 80s heavy metal era. “Dire Avidity” carries that torch even further, and somehow faster, irradiating the fact that Sadistic Ritual is, at their very core, a speed demon not to be fucked with. Despite their breakneck pace, the groove is undeniable; forcing a rhythmic nod of the head with every beat.
My favorite tracks off of this album are tied between “Murmur”, and “Maelstrom of Consciousness”… bad ass titles aside, these songs carry the most weight to my ears on the album. “Murmur’s” drum + guitar assault resembles the cacophony of machine gun fire, leaving no thing alive in its wake. The hallucinogenic leads in “Maelstrom of Consciousness”, combined with the layer upon layer of rolling thunderclaps, defines a pinnacle moment in the album. The song has a much different feel to it than the rest of the tracks; traversing ethereal planes of psychedelia, as well as driving forth brutal realities with relentless attack. Southern’s screams pierce the trans dimensional veil, echoing out as lost souls, forever stuck in No Man’s Land.
As the smoke in the room finally cleared, and The Enigma Boundless’ last notes rang out, I thought to myself: This album eclipses the vast majority of heavy metal out there today… Without shedding any heaviness, this is the sort of album that will captivate fans of every metal genre. It honestly makes me excited as fuck to see the future of our scene here in the Dirty South. These dudes are certainly giving Atlanta metal a great reputation, while also setting the bar high for every fresh heavy Georgia band out there. I can say with assuredness that the scene here is incredibly diverse, with bands pushing genre boundaries constantly. It makes me proud to see that happening, and I hope every band chooses to push their creative limits in the ways Sadistic Ritual has on The Enigma, Boundless.
"Humbled by Death, this illusion will be decimated” — Sadistic Ritual
The Enigma, Boundless dropped May 20th through Prosthetic Records.