Executioner by Mantic Ritual
Release date : February 2009
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
In late April 2008, it was officially announced that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Meltdown had inked a record contract with Nuclear Blast Records. That week, the group entered Germany's Stage One Studios with producer Andy Classen (who's worked with such acts as Legion of the Damned, Dew-Scented, Neaera, Belphegor, and Asphyx) to begin recording a proper debut album. Entitled Executioner, the album would be a re-recording of its 2007 independently released namesake. An August issue was slated. During early September, “Panic” was made available for streaming via Meltdown's official MySpace page. Also, the album's European issue date was pushed back to November 14th, whilst its North American issue date was pushed back to early 2009. Midway into the month, Meltdown changed its name to Mantic Ritual due to possible legal issues, meaning that Executioner's release date had to be pushed back to early 2009.
On December 5th, 6th and 7th, Mantic Ritual supported Exodus. In early January 2009, Executioner's artwork was unveiled. During late January, “Next Attack” and “Murdered to Death” were made available for streaming through the act's newly launched MySpace page. Shot by Legion of the Damned vocalist Maurice Swinkels, a music video filmed for the song “One By One” surfaced one week later. Throughout that month, Mantic Ritual supported Rotting Christ for over twenty dates.
Classic Thrash Metal's revival is upon us, and one group helping to lead that charge happens to be Mantic Ritual. Despite the fact that Mantic Ritual has existed since 2004, the outfit has waited until almost half a decade later to issue its debut album, namely Executioner. Glancing at the full length's cover artwork, all screams Black Metal: a guy lies upon a stone block, and stares at a figure cloaked in black. This figure prepares to strike with a sword. Another facet which screams Black Metal happens to be Mantic Ritual's font which emblazons the artwork. The truth is found within Executioner's music, however, which employs Thrash stylings. Producer Andy Classen has finely performed, capturing a raw sound which causes Executioner to sonically resemble an eighties era album.
Viewing some of the lyrics found within, these too point towards a sinister demeanour, and possibly slight evil even. Within the track “One By One”, vocalist Dan Wetmore shouts the lines “No one escapes from the power of terror / Metal’s black curse can be found”. The way these and other lines are delivered could almost be construed as Punk, though the guitars of Wetmore and Jeff Potts prove irrefutable in terms of their early Thrash leanings. Upon each and every track, a rapid tempo as well as scaling guitar solos are utilized. Inaugurating “Panic”, Wetmore shouts “alright”, and though the song lacks much of the lyrical content prevalent elsewhere upon Executioner, “Panic” boasts a strong chorus and a blistering pace, the two driving the number. “Next Attack” halts the tempo by a considerable measure, and allows the guitars to use slightly more crunch, as opposed to balls out speed.
If Mantic Ritual entered the studio to intentionally capture a raw, classic sound, then the group have greatly performed. In terms of production, tracks like “Murdered to Death” and “Souls” are so raw that even the occasional wrong string being hit is audible. To phrase things simply, Executioner is a collection of music that has its roots sewn deep in classic Thrash. However, the lengthy wait in issuing a debut raises the following question; “What was the group waiting for?”. Executioner isn't for listeners who favour heavily produced material, though is an album which opts towards the very classic sound that began the careers of many prior groups. Mantic Ritual, and its debut full length Executioner, prove that it isn't wise to judge a book by its cover.