Review Summary: A ridiculously fun blend of fast, technically proficient guitar work with a crisp production job and fantastic high pitched vocals that, when put into the same album, sounds straight out of the metal heyday of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.
Holy Grail are a somewhat interesting band in that they almost seamlessly blend the old and new traits of metal to create something that is rather quite fun to listen to. Their debut album was entitled Crisis In Utopia and was released in 2010 to mild acclaim and was met with praise for its balls-out style of riffing, clever use of bass to make more of a solid foundation for the music than many modern bands attempt, and fantastic vocal performance. The follow-up to this release is 2013's Ride The Void and if this is a sign of things to come from this year then 2013 looks to be rather spectacular indeed.
The second song is the best idea of how this album sounds. It is called Bestia Triumphans and it opens with some stop-start bursts of drumming and fast, technically proficient guitar work and vocals scattered in between these flurries of fast instrumental work. The guitar work is the highlight of this album with some really fast lead fills scattered throughout and the riffing is actually fairly awesome despite not being quite as technically adept as the lead work. Unlike many modern bands such as Black Veil Brides, Holy Grail really know how to make a dual guitar attack with a chugging rhythm guitarist and freakishly talented lead player actually work. Whereas in that particular band's latest effort the lead fills sound as forced and half-arsed as can be, on Ride The Void they sound completely necessary and really well integrated into the fast-paced bezerk style of music the band plays. Something that stands out about this release is that the breakdowns are actually nowhere near as annoying nor as noticeable as many modern metal bands such as Bullet For My Valentine and are really used to great effect, such as being located whilst a solo is playing so as to enable the listener to focus solely on the soloing instead of on everything else that is going on. The soloing itself is really rather fantastic to listen to with a no punches pulled styling to it whereby Eli Santana just goes insane on his fret board using all manner of guitar techniques such as fast four string sweeps and some crazily fast shredding on the bottom two strings. These are not the toneless solos that infest so many modern releases either but actually have a good sense of melody and timing to them that sets the guitar work of this release apart from so many bands.
The drumming on here is rather great as well with Bleeding Stone's fast, groovy riff being accompanied by a fantastic beat that makes great use of some quick flurries of double bass work and uses the hi-hat to good effect. The drums on this release have a really cool sound to them and are mixed absolutely perfectly so that they do not completely rape the mix but instead are constantly there thudding away and creating a beautiful rhythm for the guitars to play off and are still really enjoyable. The bass work is audible throughout such as the little fill right near the beginning of instrumental opener Archeus but is not quite as well mixed as it was on their debut. Bleeding Stone's pre-solo section shows off the skills of Blake Mount on his four string really well and this song perhaps stands as the best example of the sound of this release as well with its great riff set. The vocal performance throughout this consistently keeps to a high standard and really does add yet another dynamic to the band's sound that they use perfectly. He mainly sticks to a middle-high range that sounds faintly reminiscent of the glory days of metal when Accept, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were king, although he seldom strives to attempt to hit the notes that such vocalists as Dickinson hits. This is a band that honestly sounds straight out of the seventies with a few more modern tweaks to their sound such as the occasional use of screamed vocals, although these are extremely far and few in between, and the high level of technical proficiency that almost feels as though the band are showing off at times.
The title track is a song that one should consider listening to as an introduction to this band as well as Bleeding Stone as it really is a fantastic piece of work with a lot of fast guitar work throughout and the dual guitar assault is perhaps best utilized here with both guitars consistently being audible whilst never once clashing with each other. The drumming on this song is fast and well written and the high notes hit at around 2:50 by vocalist James Paul Luna are something to be marveled at. There are numerous solos on this song that show off the sense of clever timing and melody the two guitarists have and the breakdown section at 3.30 is a lot more tolerable and enjoyable than most bands of today. This release is one that has a sense of fun and enjoyment that so many are missing today and just makes you want to sing along, strum an air guitar along to and wail your lungs out as tonelessly as you want whilst never once forgetting how incredible this truly is. If you have an ounce of self respect then I consider this an essential purchase for you. Just listen to moments such as the ridiculously fast opening guitar work to Too Decayed To Wait and the riff-fest that is Bleeding Stone and the amazing vocals on the title track and allow those to convince you that this is a must-buy.