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A Review of the album The Ritual By San Francisco Thrash Metal Band Testament: It is an underrated classic!

Updated on August 11, 2017
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Ara is currently an Accounting student at Glendale Community College in Glendale. CA. He enjoys writing about a variety of topics.

The Ritual: Front Album Cover

Track Listing for the album The Ritual

  1. Signs of Chaos (instrumental)
  2. Electric Crown
  3. So Many Lies
  4. Let Go of My World
  5. The Ritual
  6. Deadline
  7. As the Seasons Grey
  8. Agony
  9. The Sermon
  10. Return to Serenity
  11. Troubled Dreams

The Ritual: An Album That Should Get More Credit Than It Deserves

Bay Area thrash metal band Testament showed that they were still a great band in 1992 when they released their 5th studio album called The Ritual. They still play heavy metal but this album is less like thrash metal and more mainstream without actually being light enough to be considered mainstream by the literal definition. This album is the last one to feature the lineup that fans were used to since the 1980’s. This is also the last album that we would hear Chuck Billy use his standard heavy metal vocals. And I’ll tell you this: he can do standard heavy metal vocals, low growls, and heavy grunts and MAKE it stand out! He can extend and hold on to these low grunts like in the song Low on the next album and make it sound good. That’s a way to put yourself in the elite company of great heavy metal singers for sure. The Ritual is a very underrated heavy metal album and you are about to see why this is the case.

The Ritual: songs 1-6

The album begins with a very short instrumental song Signs of Chaos. This song is just basically 31 seconds of lead guitar. And then, we are exposed to the first full song in the album called Electric Crown. So Many Lies features some guitar part that reminds me of the style that Iron Maiden would use in their song called Fear is the Key. So Many Lies is about a person that is waiting to be judged because he has told so many lies and acted in an evil kind of way. As the song says: “he who lies; evil pays.” The person knows that even though he can run, he cannot hide from what is about to confront him. You could say that he is awaiting his execution. Next comes the very catchy song Let Go of My World. The band tends to focus on very philosophical themes that touch upon our existence as humans. They try to point out the imperfections in human beings because human beings tend to lie very much and we are all sinners. Sin has existed since the beginning of time and the band brings up these subjects for thought. The Ritual starts with some interesting melody that reminds me of the way that Tampa Florida band Death would start in some of their songs. The Ritual is a song about someone who is called upon by some strange force to perform some kind of ritual. However, he gets caught up in a cycle of destruction where he loses his mind and his sanity. The song also asks the question of what a person would do if their life ended up being sold to a world that is considered so cold. As the person affected by the ritual is getting ready to come home, he is called again by that strange power. But he is still trapped as he cannot be set free from this power. Deadline is about the fact that life has the potential to bring us down from the day that we are born until the day that we go to the grave. Every day seems to be the same as the person seems to be in all kinds of pain. Life is not always about suffering from pain. There is much pleasure in life as well but the point is that we will all have our trials and tribulations. What would life be like if there was no pain and only pleasure? We can only wonder about this.

Agony (one of the most catchy songs on The Ritual)

The Ritual: songs 7-11 And Conclusion

As the Seasons Grey is a song that questions the reasons why so many people turn to having faith if they say that they are not afraid of dying. The seasons will change. The leaves will change their colors once autumn comes and they will fall off of the trees. And as life draws to end for all of us, the story seems to be over before it even started. Songs like this show that the listener can learn so much just through the power of music. Testament writes lyrics that are intelligent and really make us think critically and analyze the importance of the songs. The next three songs Agony, The Sermon, and Return to Serenity are three of the best songs ever written by Testament. Agony is basically a song about people that have become prisoners of war. They feel like they are in a nightmare and unable to get out of that nightmare. They are still fighting that war but there seems to be nothing that they could gain from this fight. They begin to pray so that their suffering comes to end. However, they begin to die slowly as they most probably won’t make it. War brings so many horrible consequences for those that become involved in it. Return to Serenity is easily one of the best ballads written by any band. The song is about taking a journey to a peaceful place, a place that is free of anger and resentment. As the song says there is no time for anger and no time for despair. The beauty of the song cannot be understated as it is beautiful enough to be on a list of the top 5 heavy metal ballads of all-time. The Ritual is definitely an album that should be listened to! Just because it is not like the band’s first four efforts does not mean it isn’t an exceptional album. The songwriting is still terrific, the lead guitar work is pretty good, and with Return to Serenity alone, this album is worth lots of credit and praise!

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Return to Serenity (Beautiful ballad and one of the greatest of all time)

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© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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