It’s once again with great sadness that I must share the news about another of our Heavy Metal stalwarts having passed with guitarist Ralph Santolla. Recently, his personal Facebook profile found the musician noting that he was not feeling well and not long after he would suffer a heart attack and soon fall into a coma. Despite the efforts to save him, the doctors found there was no promising change or hope of recovery and he was taken off of life support late Wednesday evening and would leave us at the age of 51. Such a shame.
Santolla was most famously known as one of the axe wielders in some incredible acts like Obituary, Iced Earth and Deicide. At one point in his career he kept up pace with the legendary Chuck Schuldiner in Death’s live shows but he didn’t record anything with them sadly. Ralph worked on a number of other projects that you can learn more about in his Wikipedia entry down below. One of them was a solo effort that his family maintains will see the light of day posthumously as soon as its possible to be addressed. A family member mentioned online that Ralph was an organ donor and that should some musical ability or razor sharp sarcasm come into play in someone’s life that it was likely due to Ralph’s presence with them. At least during this sad time that some other people can have a chance on a longer life. More should consider being a donor because its not like we need the stuff anymore once we pass on.
I met Ralph several times over the years thanks to the shows I was covering and sharing some mutual friends. He was a talented and interesting person for sure and the photos in this memorial reflection all feature Ralph from some Obituary tours that I covered back around 2007-2009. Two of these shows took place at the now shuttered B.B. King Blues Club while the other was at the Gramercy Theatre which might have been called The Blender Theatre at the time. I didn’t remember seeing him in Deicide or Iced Earth but I could be wrong since those shows are so long ago in my memory at this point. Ralph was truly an excellent player that I think we only ever got to see a small part of since his talents were far deeper than only the Heavy Metal stuff that so many of us bore witness to.
Though there were many news outlets reporting on his passing days before, we opted to wait until the news was 100% final out of proper respect. We wish his family, friends and numerous band mates over the years the deepest of condolences during this sad time. Thank you Ralph for giving us some incendiary riffs for many years. May you Rest In Peace. We welcome fans of the musician to add their own reflections down below in the comments.
Obituary is one of the legends of Death Metal and the touring package with Unleashed and Carnifex meant a night of pure, cold Metal. Our coverage is below for those who want to scroll past the logo and learn more. Photos of two of the three performers are also featured, and like the song says, “two out of three ain’t bad”.
Artist: Obituary Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY) Opener: Unleashed & Carnifex Date: 10/5/2008 Label: Candlelight Records
I had just dealt with what amounted to nothing less than an insane month of shows in my quest to bring the Metal word to the masses, and as result I was unsure about even hitting this gig until the very last minute. Let’s face it, hitting eleven killer Metal shows in sequence and not only documenting the proceedings of the main band on the bill but also shooting images of almost everyone else who performed and choosing to comment on them also can be exhausting for anyone. Be that as it may, it is not often that two legendary bands in the Death Metal genre are hitting the stages on a tour together so when Obituary hit the road with Swedish legends Unleashed my plans were set in motion. The show would reach our area and visit the ever reliable B.B. King Blues Club and find Carnifex as the first band up. Here is our synopsis of the night. Continue reading Obituary @ B.B. King Blues Club (10/5/2008)→
Artist: Obituary Title: “Xecutioner’s Return” Label: Candlelight Records Release Date: 8/28/2007 Genre: Death Metal Rating: 4/5
It was probably the best title that they could have ever decided to use because with the “Xecutioner’s Return” the band Obituary shows that they are back and ready to once again pummel you with the brand of Death Metal that they have so long ago mastered. As many know the US brand of the genre was slightly different from that of our European brothers and when it came to Obituary’s sound there was always a lot of old school Thrash involved and while John Tardy growls away as their singer, his own style was not an indiscernible as some of the bands who would follow them. I always felt that when I heard him there was a certain Hardcore vibe happening. The album would come care of Candlelight Records who the band signed a deal with in May of 2007 and there is probably no better label for them to be on since they are long respected as being the label that is capable of handling some of the Darkest Metal to have ever been released (see Dark Funeral and Averse Sefira for example). As you listen to the album you will find that it smokes on a number of levels and that is definitely based on the newest member of the camp Ralph Santolla. He is a guitar wizard and brings new levels of technique to the Death Metal rumblings of Obituary and where we once found solid leads, we now find displays of riffs that leave you scratching your head wondering how he managed to get that run to work in a track as heavy as this. Continue reading “Xecutioner’s Return” by Obituary→
This was a show that was not meant for everyone and definitely not for the piously faint of heart. It was the legendary blasphemers themselves Deicide who would invade Brooklyn like an assault force. My own scheduling was insane for the month and hence I would not be able to attend this one so our own Natalia or “Nell” to most would be on point to bring us the scoop.
Artist: Deicide Venue: The North Six (Brooklyn, NY) Opener: unknown Date: 10/20/2006 Label: Earache Records
The night of the Deicide show was going to be a night to remember whether you were standing inside the venue or outside facing the elements. No matter which you faced, you were going to be in Hell tonight for inside the club it was hot, humid and far too crowded while outside it was quite cold and windy. The North Six as a venue is a good place but it all depends on what band you are and what the crowd expectation is. If you are smaller group with a decent but not crazy following this is great but if you are one of the premier Death Metal bands who decided to make a return to the area then this is not for you. It would be the case for Deicide tonight as it was beyond crowded and while this is uncomfortable to most it did not stop the fans from having a good time at the show. Moshpits broke out in every section of the place and judging by the size of them you could tell that everyone was having a great time since it began when the openers started to play. While their names escape me, I have to say that a majority of them were good from a musical and performance point of view. Good guitar solos and many longhaired dudes. Continue reading Deicide @ The North Six (10/20/2006)→
Artist: Deicide Title: “The Stench Of Redemption” Label: Earache Records Release Date: 8/22/2006 Genre: Death Metal Rating: 4/5
I went into this record not knowing what to expect since I never really followed the career and music of Deicide – all I did know was that despite my limited knowledge of them that they were one of the more respected of the Death Metal bands in the US. “The Stench Of Redemption” is an album that will remind you of what makes these guys get the level of respect in the genre that they do. To define this as one of the most pummeling albums I have heard in recent memory and indeed it is, would be an understatement. It is as brutal as Hell in terms of lyrical content and the subject matter which was to be expected of them and this has always been the case with Deicide. The band is also a little different for those who have not paid attention to recent goings on in their life as the Hoffman brothers are no longer part of the roster of members and sadly this would not be an amicable split for the group. Yet, instead of suffering the losses, the remaining two enlisted the talents of Jack Owen (former of Cannibal Corpse) and Ralph Santolla (former of Iced Earth and Death) to fill the roles and this would be a great match for the music they would record for this album. The two are a perfect compliment to the blast beat drumming of Steve Asheim and the guttural growls of bassist/singer Glen Benton. It seems quite clear that the band with this new membership has found a new level of life breathed into their cause and perhaps this will intensify their musical reach in the larger Metal arena as well. The band truly approached this album with a pissed off manner and it shows on every track from start to finish. Just listen to the albums title opener, “Death To Jesus” or “Homage For Satan” to know that they mean business more than ever before with this one. The whole thing is loaded with the hate-spewing anti-Christian and Satanic lyrics that are clearly not for the faint of heart or overly pious. It reminded me of how I first viewed Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” as the level of lyrical and musical brutality was along the same lines. I think the album will impress a lot of the Extreme Metal fans due to the execution and technical skills showcased on the recording. The band even does a cover of the Deep Purple song “Black Night” which while a great song, is a weird choice for a Death Metal band to attack. Its largely unrecognizable and blows right by you in minutes but I guess for a Death Metal version of Classic Rock it was done pretty well. Continue reading “The Stench Of Redemption” by Deicide→