Superjoint Ritual - _A Lethal Dose of American Hatred_
(Sanctuary, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (6.5 out of 10)
In touting Superjoint Ritual -- if rumour is to be believed, his sole current musical priority -- as "the most dangerous band on the planet", Phil Anselmo is obviously setting his sights on ascending to some fairly dizzying and intimidating heights. After all, this is a man who provided the pitbull-on-speed snarl to possibly two of the greatest straight-ahead metal albums of all time in the shape of Pantera's _Far Beyond Driven_ and _Vulgar Display of Power_ records. It is perhaps rather odd then, to hear Superjoint Ritual veer even further off the traditional metallic path on their second effort; opting instead to become musical bedfellows with the likes of Amen et al. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, mind you -- when Phil & Co. manage to make this approach work, it yields some very impressive and enjoyable, if not particularly threatening, results. The big problem is that for every "Dress Like a Target" or "Waiting for the Turning Point" there's a disjointed mess like "Symbol of Nevermore". So, while Superjoint Ritual are obviously capable of hardcore punking it with the best of them, they never seem to reach a satisfying level of consistency in this respect, nor do their attempts at experimentation achieve much more than lowering the intensity levels which the band are seemingly striving so diligently to maintain. Add to this that Phil's vocals at times sound noticeably strained, and for lack of a better term, ageing, and _A Lethal Dose of American Hatred_ unfortunately never quite manages to live up to its tagline. With Pantera now apparently confined to the pages of history, let us hope that Mr. Anselmo has the good sense to keep Pepper Keenan's telephone number handy.

(article published 8/15/2003)


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