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If the story of Pittsburgh, PA thrash metal neophytes Mantic Ritual's heading out west, scoring a record deal and recording their debut in Germany (but not before touring the world with the likes of heroes Destruction and Exodus) sounds too good to be true, then you need to get a little less jaded, as this tale is completely accurate. EXECUTIONER is the end result of this quartet's ultimate sojourn into the realm where velocity reigns supreme, an 11-track ode to the heyday of the legendary Bay Area uprising that mightily summons the power of KILL 'EM ALL, BONDED BY BLOOD, and SO FAR, SO GOOD, SO WHAT with a lackluster sense of self seeping through. While this squad is undeniably tight and well-disciplined in the art of shred ("Black Tar Sin", "Panic", "Murdered By Death"), the prevalently placed ripping retro vibes on everything here from the early Hetfield growls to the Holt/Hunolt fancy fretwork leave little room for this unit to break from the 1987 mold, opting to worship at the altars of Kreator and Slayer exclusively. Almost at times portraying to be too vintage for their own good, within the recent resurgence of bullet belt wearing, gratuitous solo playing headbanging music, Mantic Ritual unquestionably stand a cut above the rest thanks to their jaw-dropping tightness, yet need to develop past the glory days of the genre if they want to go toe to toe and pump the kind of essential entities thrash metal music's top dogs continue to lay down.
- Mike SOS