I've told you before that Massacre Records released some superb US Power Metal products in the early nineties. Next to Oracle, Forte, Mystik and Winters Bane there was also Ritual, a formation from Cleveland. This act we basically formed under the name Tormentor but besides a demo they never had an official release. They changed the band's name into Ritual to release ''Trials Of Torment'' in 1993.


Most notable member of the band is singer Juan Ricardo. This man owns a golden voice, reaching the highest notes constantly. He does his job with an amazing flair and he seems to be a natural talent if we talk about Heavy Metal vocalists. His vocal lines at each song are astonishing and he proves, once again, the best vocalists in our scene are mostly Americans. He is comparable with singers like John Cyriis (ex-Agent Steel), James Rivera (Helstar,...), Carl Albert (Vicious Rumors, Villain,...) and Darrel Wane in his Sanctuary era... Juan Ricardo has a wide ranging voice and every time he screams out loud you will get cold shivers. On each song you will discover original vocal lines, one of my favorite ones can be found on 'In the dungeon'. Juan Ricardo created his own typical and original vocal sound, one you will easily recognize if you hear him sing in his other bands.


Musical wise Ritual belongs to those typical first class US Power Metal bands.  I adore this kind of bands and I'm not the only one... US Power Metal fans love this music because it contains the best of traditional Heavy Metal elements, progressive touches and Thrash Metal influences. You can easily hear crunchy and straight riffs, superb twin guitars, varied intelligent breaks, screaming and fast fingered technical guitar solos... Ritual changes tempi at the perfect moment and is constantly searching for a good balance between melody and aggressive notes. All songs are holding a diverse powerhouse of vocals, built on a rhythmic and forceful foundation. Yeah, Ritual can easily be described as Helstar and Deadly Blessing meeting Megadeth and Forbidden. Also some lyrics are noteworthy, check them out if you can...


The opening track 'She Rides The Sky' is the perfect song to start with and contains an overwhelming addictive refrain, once heard you will never forget it again. From this moment on Ritual is setting the tone for the entire album. In vein of this song Ritual delivers you ten fantastic songs, all equally in quality. In every track Ritual is reaching the edge of perfection. Once again it is a disgrace an album, that deserves to be rated so high, was ignored so many years ago. I do agree it was released in a difficult time for the true Metal movement but nevertheless this album needs to be talked about. You don't hear me say this album is an essential one for the history of Heavy Metal. Nevertheless it is a masterpiece and this US power metal ravager deserves a place in your CD rack.


Ritual released in 1995 an -impossible to find-' EP, called ''Relapse Of Aggression''. Soon after Ritual disbanded and the story of this extraordinary band ended. Juan Ricardo appeared on the Attaxe CD of 2002, containing old demos of this eighties Metal band. More important was the fact Juan Ricardo started a new band called Dark Arena in 2006, releasing another masterpiece called ''Alien Factor''. It was my favorite album of that particular year but it was a pity only a chosen few discovered this album. The media didn't mention this gem and Juan Ricardo seemed to be uninterested to give the underground websites the opportunity to support the album. Don't ask me why, maybe the man knew too many disappointments. On the Internet you can still find this record, don't doubt buying it if you're into US Power Metal.


''Trials Of Torment'' might be hard to find but don't worry because nowadays there's a re-recorded version available under the band name Ritual Of Torment. Just check: http://juanmetal.net  if you want to purchase this album or surf to: http://www.myspace.com/darkarena. If you want to discover the new band from Juan Ricardo. Highly recommended!!!!


My Points: 98 / 100