Superjoint Ritual

Superjoint Ritual

The early 21st century saw Pantera singer Phil Anselmo launch several side projects, including Necrophagia, Viking Crown, Christ Inversion, Southern Isolation, and Superjoint Ritual. The latter group is comprised of guitarist Jim Bower and drummer Joe Fazzio (both District 6), with none other than Hank Williams III on bass (Anselmo handled both vocal and bass duties for the group's recordings, but opted to concentrate solely on vocals for the group's live shows). According to Bower, the members of Superjoint Ritual approached the writing and recording of their debut with "the perfect 15-year-old mentality of having everything loud, everything on 10, getting loaded, and letting whatever happens, happen." Recorded at a rehearsal space turned recording studio in Anselmo's backyard, the sessions were produced by former Ugly Kid Joe member Dave Fortman (who has turned into quite a producer of ultra heavy bands - Eyehategod, Soilent Green, etc.). May of 2002 saw the release of the quintet's debut, Use Once and Destroy, an album that reflected such influences as Black Flag, Righteous Pigs, Celtic Frost, and Voivod, among others. Superjoint Ritual supported the album with a summer tour the same year, and followed it up with 2003's polemical "A Lethal Dose of American Hatred".

Note one of Superjoint Ritual's A Lethal Dose of American Hatred greets your ears like a steel-tipped boot does a mud puddle. From this satisfying splat, to the looped, warped finale of "Absorbed," it's obvious that the band cares as much for studio gloss as they do about being polite (a typically subtle lyric: "I want to kill your family/I want to kill your god"). While it was recorded in a New Orleans studio (with Dave Fortman), the album's flat, dirty sound is in the red all the way through, and visceral as hell. Somewhat removed from the posturing of his full-time band, Pantera main man Phil Anselmo is free to kick all the chairs he wants, and he tears into most of the material here with screeching, biting, vein-tearing mirth. Jim Bower and Kevin Bond's guitars are spectacular throughout, especially on the amazing Black Flag-inspired sludge of "Never to Sit or Stand Again," and tracks like "Death Threat" and "Horror" refine and amplify the gloriously unholy hardcore/thrash union that first revealed itself on 2002's Use Once and Destroy.

From its inception, Superjoint Ritual has been about hitting as hard as possible, without distraction. Even in slower moments like "Knife Rises" or the grinding thrash of "Absorbed," the band is mercifully unforgiving, and that's incredibly refreshing at a time when metal is too often diluted by mainstream desire or substance-less style mongering. Conversely, the only thing Anselmo and his mates desire to do is punch you harder in the face.