Testament - The Ritual review


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Band: Testament
Album: The Ritual
Release date: May 1992

01. Signs Of Chaos
02. Electric Crown
03. So Many Lies
04. Let Go Of My World
05. The Ritual
06. Deadline
07. As The Seasons Grey
08. Agony
09. The Sermon
10. Return To Serenity
11. Troubled Dreams

Love to hate or hate to love?

If you ever wanted to drive a wedge between metal fans, then bring up early 90's releases by Testament, which parted fans faster than Moses did the red sea, with those who were on board with the band's dalliance with commerciality and those who decried it for daring (and failing) to take the leap away from thrash forming two different sides to the same coin. The Ritual would be the second and final roll of the dice in this direction for the band, one that would succeed…in breaking up the band at the expense of minor success.

Those familiar with the history of thrash will know that any album that followed in the wake of [band]Metallica[/i]'s self-titled 'black album' faced a stark (and/or forced) choice as to what direction to move in: continue as you were and get swallowed by a scene quickly on its last legs or transition to a more radio friendly sound in the hopes of success and survival. The Ritual's die was cast before it was released; this was to be a rock/metal album and not a thrash record.

Slowing down the tempos and adding in ballads are probably the starkest changes that will hit you upon your first listens, with the album focusing on mid-to-lower tempos throughout its duration rather than aggressive up-tempo tracks as before. There are a few tracks that will catch your attention from the off, with songs like "Electric Crown", "So Many Lies" and "Return To Serenity" being memorable from their first listen, whereas other tracks require a few more listens to properly sink in.

Therein lies the greatest issue with this record; the problem is not that the band switched up their style. It is a slow burn/grower of a record rather than a explosion out of the gate, with the exception of a few tracks. Songs like "As The Seasons Grey", "The Sermon" and "Troubled Dreams" are solid, but you have to invest time in them for that light switch to click; when you consider the band had instant classics in their back catalogue and that this was a change of direction. it's an investment many understandably were unwilling to make.

Aside from "Return To Serenity", the already mentioned tracks are the best of what The Ritual has to offer; although memorable and technically the band's biggest hit, it's not a song I particularly care for. Featuring solid riffs and catchy structures, the other five tracks will scratch the same itch as before but though solid rhythmic interplay rather than up-tempo power, with "Electric Crown" standing amongst the band's best work and offering a glimpse of hope that it could have been the album's "Enter Sandman" that pulled people into the rest of the album.

So why does The Ritual get a bad reputation? Well, for my money it is due to when the band slows down the tempo too far; given the band had traded in speed and power for middling tempos and melody, the band had not perfected the art of making a slower song interesting where they could do a fast one. Rather than being solely of an issue of 'slow song=bad', it is that you end up with a track that drags its feet from start to finish with little in between to hold your interest. The likes of "The Ritual", "Deadline" and "Let Go Of My World" lack moments and components to make you sit up and want to continue listening on. "Deadline" comes closest, with its Aerosmith-esque vocal interplay, but that is the sole part of the track of any real attraction, while the title track just drags on for what feels like forever.

The band do give what feels like half-hearted efforts throughout these tracks. Whether that's due to them being unable to channel their talents effectively through this change in style or inter-band dramas is unknown; the only certainly was that lead guitarist and central creative component Skolnick had one foot out of the door at this point, depriving the band of one of the central creative pieces. Parts like Billy's vocals are not bad, but he is unable to bring his power to bear, with songs like "As The Seasons Grey" missing that special ingredient as a result, while Christian's bass is all but neutered throughout.

The Ritual remains a contentious entry into the band's discography to this day, either as an overlooked gem or the album that finally saw the first iteration of Testament snap and break. While I'm on the fence about it, I wouldn't dissuade others from giving it a go; it has the potential to be something you may enjoy and is worth taking a punt on at least, though I have reservations as to whether it may be up your street or not.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Written on 12.01.2021 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 8   Visited by: 27 users
12.01.2021 - 14:22
This album is a tremendous masterpiece 🎶🎵🖤💪👏👍💙😱🎩🤘. I don't understand this rate/hate about this album
12.01.2021 - 14:58
The album isn't bad, it's decent but it isn't perfect
"Whoever fights mosters
should see to it that
In the process he does not
become a monster
And when you look long into the abyss,
the abyss also looks into you."

-Frederik Wilhelm Nietzche
12.01.2021 - 19:32
This was an important album for them knowing for certain that they aren"t like Metallica, and be able to, having tried this direction, go the other way with James Murphy towards a new peak in their music.
I wouldn"t miss it if it didn"t exist, but i"d very much miss what they created as a result from turning away from this style
Written by Warman on 07.11.2007 at 22:39
Haha, that's like saying "compose your own Metal album and upload it here, instead of writing a review of an album". :lol:
12.01.2021 - 20:45
I'd agree with the above folks. Your review is harsh. This isn't face melting speed on this album, but that's OK. Kind of like Slayers Seasons its got some progressive elements in it which I like.
12.01.2021 - 21:36
Not a harsh review at all. This is a totally mediocre boring album, I might even rate it a full point lower.
I am not nor have I ever been a musician or a member of a one-man band, especially a band that has a name that starts with "D".
12.01.2021 - 21:42
JoHn DoE
I listened to this when it came out and I've liked it to this day, always have.
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
13.01.2021 - 21:40
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
To long review whit no glorification to this great album.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
15.01.2021 - 08:25
The Ritual is a good album. Better than the previous 2 albums made by Testament. After it, only The Gathering tops it.

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