Words by Paige Cobos
As we hurl through the chaos of 2022, one can correctly asses that it has been a dark and insane past couple years. The onslaught of a chaotic world post-COVID is a hellish reality felt in every aspect of our lives. As we collectively struggle to catch our breath, the overbearing shadow of our chaotic world seems to remain in the back of our minds. Upcoming new metal music is feeling that chaotic shadow of the last few years and channeling it in new and visceral ways.
The Atlanta, Georgia based thrash metal band, Sadistic Ritual has seized upon that shadow of our collective anxiety with the release of their third album, The Enigma, Boundless. Lost in the combustion of the pandemic and the world of past and present, rises a fearsome fusion of thrash, death metal with a psychedelic edge that leads the listener on a journey like no other. We got to talk to the band’s drummer Joe Sweat on subconsciously manifesting the chaos into their music, that insane all paper album artwork and the best psychedelics to pair with their new album.
Off Shelf: With the release of The Enigma, Boundless, how does it feel to return with such a fearsome album?
Joe Sweat: It feels great to share our vision with the world. This was a long time in the making.
OS: This album feels like a bomb of incredible energy that seems to embody the chaos from the past few years. What was the process like translating all this intensity in the writing of The Enigma, Boundless?
JS: Well, we started writing in 2019 and we tracked in April of 2020. The album cover was finished in February of 2020, right before the mass shutdowns/lockdowns. We felt things were crazy already Aand then COVID happened. It feels like what was happening/about to happen subconsciously manifested itself into our music. The process was to let whatever happens, happen. More feel than anything.
OS: The brutal and savage single ‘Murmur’ radiates a grisliness and battle readiness in both its riffs and lyrics. You commented that this was inspired by a psychedelic experience in your youth. As wide of a scope as the album is, do all of the tracks of The Enigma, Boundless have a personal connection or inspiration?
JS: All the songs are somewhat personal reactions to this reality. It’s important to express your views and make a statement of your individuality in a society obsessed with fitting in. Existence is a wild thing and our modern world strips it of magick, perverting it into something mundane. So most of the tracks are an assault on collective submission, the government, and social media.
OS: You guys are from Atlanta Georgia, which has a lively metal scene. How much would you say the metal scene and the city itself influence your music, particularly this album?
JS: The metal scene has been incredibly influential on this band, especially considering the line up now consists of people that have played in other bands in the city. In regards to the album, the collective sound and band influence makes its way into the album.
OS: The instrumental track, ‘The Blood of Memory’ is quite an amazing departure with the use of slide guitars and acoustics. How was it like introducing these elements into the writing of the song?
JS: It was refreshing having some kind of respite in a dark record, having something more uplifting. For us, showing more versatility is good.
OS: The album as a whole sounds like a super-hybrid of black and thrash metal. What was it like to combine these powerful guitar elements and keep them consistent throughout the album?
JS: We wanted to create a “Heavy Metal” record. Mixing influences of Black, Thrash, Death, Crossover etc. It felt natural to blend these influences. A lot of bands pick their respective genre and say “here we are ‘so and so’ METAL.” Sadistic Ritual doesn’t have limits like that. We write off emotion and our collective influence.
OS: Even the album art is a beast in itself. What was the collaborative process like with the artist Erica Frevel in capturing the essence of The Enigma, Boundless visually? I understand that you and Bassist LaMar George also worked on it as well.
JS: That process was interesting and surreal at times. She sent us a sigil to hang in our studio, and we sent her early demos. The idea was to influence each other’s art throughout the process of making this record. So when it came time for the cover, Erica had the same vision or attitude towards the project. The cover is a collage, all paper. No digital fuckery! Erica and Joe went back and forth on the collage until the feel was right. LaMar was responsible for the layout of the album; he has experience in graphic design.
OS: A slight swerve into another direction. What kind of psychedelics would you recommend you be on to take in the majesty of this album?
JS: Well great question, because the government (yours and mine) can get fucked. I’d say mushrooms OR L.S.D.
OS: Lastly, what are some of the artists right now that you are listening to that you think more people should know about?
JS: Unto Others, Vimur, Wormwitch, Abysmal Lord.