Snake Head Ritual, you can almost envision the southern rock vibe from the name alone. Their debut album shows a group influenced by the ’60-’70s rock of bands like the Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, and Thin Lizzy. However, you can clearly hear the influences of blues greats and even a tiny bit of some more recent bands like the southern metal band Corrosion of Conformity.
Hailing from Toledo, Ohio the band has worked hard to craft over the last two years on the local scene a sound that is unique yet still pays tribute to the great bands that came before them. The vocals of Kevin Chez are commanding, the twin guitar attack of Bill McCullough and John “Special K” Keller is superb, and the formidable rhythm section of Chris Graham (Bass) and Josh LaForge Drums all combine into one excellent album full of originals that stand up against some of the greatest southern rock.
“Train” starts things off with some superb harmonica work from Five Horse Johnson’s Eric Oblander which permeates the whole song and sets the stage for the rest of this album of killer blues based hard rock. “Lay Your Burdens Down” will be featured on the upcoming BBR4 sampler. Filled with a huge sound of multiple guitars and some Wurlitzer organ added to beef up the rhythm section this track delivers. “Give” starts with a bluesy guitar line but quickly packs a powerful riff that could come straight off CoC’s Deliverance album, combine that with the powerful vocals of Kevin Chez and you’re in hard rock headbanger territory until the guitar solos kick in and bring you solidly back into blues rock.
Anyone who thinks this isn’t a band clearly rooted in the history of the blues only has to listen to the final track – “Poor Robert’s Lament.” An astounding rocker that tells the story of Robert Johnson told like you’ve never heard it before. After some great solo work in the middle of the song, everything takes a moody break as we relive Robert’s poisoning at the hands of a jealous lover. You can almost feel the devil rising up to reclaim his soul.
If you like your blues served with a side of substantial rock then you’re going to love Snake Head Ritual. It is a feast of retro hard blues from the opening harmonica wail of the first track until the quite literal end of Robert.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Lay Your Burdens Down
– Poor Robert’s Lament
The Big Hit
– Lay Your Burdens Down
Review by Kevin O’Rourke