Nima : After the release of their seventh full-length album, 'Portrait Of A Hanged Man', Bay Area metallers Imagika threw the towel into the ring in 2010. Personally I found this a pity because the modern technical thrash and heavy metal of the band appealed to me very much. Together with his Imagika colleagues, Elena Repetto (bass) and Robert Kolowitz (guitar), vocalist Norman Skinner founded his own Skinner, whose pretty strong EP 'The Enemy Within' was released recently.
Now also the other two ex-Imagika members, guitarist Steve Rice and drummer Wayne De Vecchi, strike with a new band, Kill Ritual. In this band we also find ex-Eldritch guitarist Roberto Proietti and bassist Danyael Williams (ex-Dark Angel). The only "unknown" name in the band is vocalist Josh Gibson. Let me say it right away that the first result of this collaboration, 'The Serpentine Offering', has become of hell of a strong album. What we hear from Kill Ritual is very much in the vein of Imagika. The album takes off strongly with the title track and immediately the influences of mainly Testament are again audible. For an hour the quintet keeps pounding through eleven songs that sound quite fast, heavy and brutal in general, but there is also enough room for melody and variety. But whether we're dealing with up-tempo, mid-tempo or melodic pieces, the music is catchy at all times and makes sure that you are constantly paying attention. Fortunately the technical approach, which we're used to from these gentlemen, has again had no negative influence on the spontaneity.
Gibson's vocals are initially something to get used to, as the good man has a rather peculiar voice and singing style. I also can't really compare him with anyone else. Somehow he reminded me of a mix between Sebastian Bach and Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe), but thrashier. His voice does however have character and sees to it that the music also leans towards (modern) heavy metal, which is only in benefit of the music's diversity. Despite the playing time of one hour the album doesn't weaken or bore at all. The total picture definitely sounds old-school in general, but is wrapped in a modern cloak and therefore sounds very contemporary.
And finally Andy La Roque's powerful production (Sonic Train Studios) gives the music an extra kick and makes the songs come into their own completely. Imagika may no longer exist, but we have gained two interesting bands in return. Imagika fans and fans of Bay Area thrash with a modern and melodic heavy metal twist should definitely give this album a listen.