When Skid Row put out their Slave to the Grind album in 1991, I remember being so blown away by the progression of that band from their 1st to 2nd album. This is exactly the feeling I have listening to Holy Grail’s sophomore effort Ride the Void. Holy Grail really made a name for themselves with relentless touring and live shows that blew minds from city to city. In the beginning, Holy Grail definitely possessed all of the elements of those classic NWOBHM bands that inspired them in the first place. As they progressed, towards their debut album Crisis in Utopia, I could hear them developing their own sound and identity. Listening to Ride the Void I hear a band that cut its teeth on the road, honed their skills, and found a sound of their own without compromising what it was that inspired them in the first place.
If Holy Grail was searching for an identity with Crisis in Utopia, they definitely found it with Ride the Void. Opening track “Bestia Triumphans” is a juggernaut of an a track boasting a complex arrangement of tempo changes, soaring vocals, and melodic guitar playing that will make you throw horns up in the air and scream “FUCK YES!” “Dark Passenger” is a really accessible first single but it’s the title track that I feel brought it all home for me. Hearing this song gave me a sense of pride as I heard this song that was so epic and full of life. If Holy Grail has a signature song from this album it is this one without a doubt.
There are a just a couple of issues that I do have with this album. First off, I’m not crazy about that effect put on Luna’s vocals. I’m not sure what that is but it was used a good bit and I would’ve loved to just hear his raw voice without it. He sounds amazing live so that’s how I would’ve loved to have heard it. And finally, why is the bassist Blake Mount so low in the mix? I would’ve loved to have heard a bit more of that meaty bass in there and while it’s not completely absent, I would’ve loved to have heard it kicked up a notch.
Ride the Void has Holy Grail really shining as a cohesive, tight unit of players. James Paul Luna has definitely solidified himself in the top ranks of one of my favorite metal vocalists of all time. The guitar team of Alex Lee and Eli Santana just blew my fucking mind so much on this album and pretty much have become my favorite guitar team next to Adrian Smith and Dave Murray and drummer Tyler Meahl is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with. He’s like a silent killer back there on the drums and this guy deserves way more credit. Ride the Void is the place that Holy Grail needs to be. It shows significant growth on so many levels. If this is any indication of where Holy Grail is heading, it’s safe to say that this is definitely the right direction.