Ritual Servant brings the thrash on their second full length, Albus Mendacium, an album you will want to check out.
Ritual Servant have been releasing material since their demo ep 777 in 2017. In 2019 their first full length, Metallum Evangelli was released and included the demo tracks remastered. Since that time the band has been releasing the ep’s Veritas in 2021 and Misericordiae and Opinione in 2022, which make up most of the songs on their now second full length, Albus Mendacium, where the songs have been redone. The album was produced, recorded, and mastered by Brian McKenzie who also added the session bass tracks. Additional drum and lead guitars were produced by Nathan Crane and Ryan Roebuck. The thrash band has a mission to promote the message of Christ using scripture as a basis for their songs and the theme of Albus Mendacium is taken from Matthew 7:15-16…”Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them…”
Albus Mendacium is one of those albums that immediately forces you as a listener to sit up and take notice. A fast, heavy riff and pounding drum backing open up “Whitewashed Tombs” which is quickly joined by an early layered short guitar solo, all of which immediately brings to mind thrash bands like Megadeth in particular when you think about song structure and composition and that holds throughout the track with Patrick Best’s vocals also carrying a bit of a Dave Mustaine sneer to them although not sounding like Mustaine as Best choose more to bark out the words. The guitars are simply amazing and work so well in the song. Given the title, I knew immediately what the song was going to be about as this is common subject matter for Christian bands, but the band’s approach reminded of how Metallica approached “Creeping Death”, than what I typically hear from Christian bands, which helps retain authenticity.
“Two Masters” is where we first start hearing some of the uniqueness in song structure that Ritual Servant employ. The song starts out with some short bursts and shouting before settling into a fast, thundering riff for the verse sections only to slow considerably and go through several start/stops before a short guitar solo and back to the fast riff. Several songs on this album have variations on this and while I’m not a huge fan of the slow sections and the start/stops, the fast sections are so good they more than make up for it. Production is pretty minimal and the overall sound has a bit of a rough feel to it but the guitars and drums work really well in this setting and the vocals are clear, so nothing to complain about.
Those looking for a strong Christian message will not be disappointed with the songs having a scriptural basis that the band indicates for each song and the inclusion of the Anima Christi prayer (Soul of Christ sanctify me, Body of Christ heal me…), which will be familiar to many especially Catholics. What I do appreciate throughout is a mature approach to the subject matter and in the way the message is presented in that it comes across with conviction and without sounding preachy or judgmental.
The band chose “Lazarus” and “Death and Life” for their videos and both have been out for a while and likely represent the ep versions of those tracks, but if nothing else they serve to show how the songs can change over time and seeing the band in “Lazarus” definitely helps solidify what I was imagining. The inclusion of the old movie footage of the Lazarus story is also a nice touch. While every track here fits into the “thrash” metal category, “Death and Life” is one of the heavier tracks, opening up with an ominous riff not unlike early Slayer before settling into a bit of a heavy thrash groove. Best’s vocal delivery adds to the uniqueness and his subtle shifts between different parts of the song really work. Again here and it can’t be mentioned enough, the guitar work is amazing and is exactly what the song needs. The harmony leads and blistering solos in this song and elsewhere on the album hooked me.
“40 Years” with a nice acoustic guitar intro that eventually ends and the songs literally explodes into a fast thrash riff that has a number of layered guitar parts over the top that keep the song from being overly simplistic in structure and as such consistent with other tracks on the album. As is the case with the other songs on the album, the guitar work is just so good.
Closing out the album is the Anima Christi prayer and honestly, to me is the weakest track on the album. I like the guitars and spoken section in the beginning of the song but the shift to the snarled, vocals seems almost out of place here even as the music becomes heavier. I do have to say that when the song gets fully rolling with the fast riffs and layered guitar parts that my overall impression of the song changes. In this review, there has been a lot of mention of the guitar work from Patrick Best and Ryan Roebuck and rightly so, but Seth Boone’s drumming throughout the album really helps carry the songs and keep them moving and just as powerful as the guitars.
Ritual Servant have released one of the most surprising and best albums I’ve heard so far this year. For thrash fans, this is one of those albums you can keep coming back to over and over without getting tired of. For me, there is a bit of old Megadeth and Slayer that can be picked out while still retaining a fresh feel overall from the sound.
Written by John Jackson
- Whitewashed Tombs
- Two Masters
- Hearers and Doers
- 40 Years
- Death and Life
- Into the Swine
- Revelation 3:16 (Anima Christi)
Patrick Best – vocals, guitar
Ryan Roebuck – guitar
Seth Boone – drums
Brian McKenzie – bass (session)
Release Date: May 12th. 2023
Record Label: Roxx Records
Lyric Video for ‘Death and Life’
Video for ‘Lazarus’