Ride the Void

Holy Grail has a lot of style—the band’s denim-clad press shots look like pullouts from a circa-’86 Rip magazine—but the L.A. thrash five-piece has substance, too. Actually, if you close your eyes and listen you might still think Reagan was king and New Coke was a good idea. While there has been a fistful of young paleo-metallers popping up in recent years, Holy Grail soars above the rest, having made a name for itself with 2010’s Crisis in Utopia. On its sophomore release, Ride the Void, the band again straddles the line between ’80s American thrash and 21st-century death-metal, blending perverse technical ability, aggro intensity and sing-along melodies. “Bestia Triumphans” displays those attributes within the first three seconds, and Ride the Void doesn’t let up from there. “Too Decayed to Wait” and “Take It to the Grave” are bona fide headbangers, with precision amplified by crystalline production. Eli Santana and Alex Lee divvy up plenty of galloping rhythms and dual guitar solos, and vocalist James-Paul Luna takes his register to otherworldly heights. Even if this so-called thrash revival is fleeting, it sure is fun. I mean, how often does a legitimate metal band have to think about a hook?