Saturday, February 28, 2009

Your In For Surprise, You're In For A Shock!

RIPPER – “The Dead Have Rizen” CD ’09 (Black Widow, US) – I was a damn fool once. Mark it down, circle it in red and highlight it with some neon colour, if you’d like. See, I was a damn fool once but it ain’t gonna happen again. My brush with buffoonery came in 1986. For it was in that year, dear reader, that Texas’ horror metal band RIPPER issued the harrowingly cool, frighteningly bad-assed “And The Dead Shall Rise.” That aural monster came crawling out of the slime pits on Iron Works Records some 20+ years ago and, as only he can, Ray blithely walked right past it in at least a handful of record stores, ignoring it’s coloured vinyl, it’s pic disc versions. Ok, yeah I was worshipping records with titles like “Master Of Puppets” and “Reign In Blood” in those days and I’ll be switched if a hallowed obscurity or two didn’t sneak past me, leaving evil encrusted trails all around my house while I sat smugly inside, lost in my delusion of safety. It took my good ol’ buddy Mass at Italy’s Black Widow Records to re-issue “And The Dead…,” bringing it to my attention in hair-raising detail back in 2004. Since then, I’ve been a rabid supporter of said disc’s volatility and have waited with baited breath for the day which would end up being February 25, 2009. That day, my fine fuckers, is when a small white square package arrived in my mailbox with the familiar Black Widow return address showing in the upper left hand corner. Always knowing the quality that emanates from the halls of BW, I eagerly grabbed the packet and…laid it on the shelf till I picked the kids up from school, did a load of laundry and fixed dinner. Like I’ve said before, I need to cleanse my palette, set aside a nice, neat block of time to devote to something I know will be of great quality. Finally, that evening I tore the package open & the first thing to come spilling out was the demonic, blood-red-tinged new RIPPER CD! Here it was, the band’s 2nd album, conceived only a year after “And The Dead Shall Rise” and yet, for a myriad reasons, never recorded nor released till now. And now it went in the player…and 40-some minutes later, my ass was kicked and I had my faith in the real, good…no GODLY horror metal of the ‘80’s restored.

Remember those days? The days of albums like Pentagram’s “Day Of Reckoning,” the Death SS singles, Paul Chain’s “Life & Death,” Mercyful Fate’s 1st two? We’re talking about bands who could take the very essence of darkness, creepiness…vampires & ghouls…the devil & his minions and somehow make it catchy, add a moment of camp & yet still have it kick the living be-jesus out of your sad & sorry face? “The Dead Have Rizen” is that entire vibe 101. Or maybe even 1001! Right from the scary opener “The Grave” (but of course!) the band kicks in and it’s a metal joy ride from that point on. Try to resist the opening pair of “Hemicidal” & “Driller.” Visions of the walking dead & hideous killers driving a GTO down Sunset Boulevard with an open 6-pack on the seat will dance in your head as the guitars of Rob Graves & Stephen Bogle plow into you with overdriven intensity. Don Ramirez & Alan D’Angelo (drums, bass) lay down a pulverizing mid-paced plunder and Graves vocals prowl on top like hell. I’ve gotta say, Mr. Graves does a metal vox performance for the decade on this disc. Not technically brilliant, or anything boring like that, this cat just sounds like he’s lurking ‘round the house and if your sister & her friends from modeling school are there, you might wanna lock the door. Friggin’ brilliant, man. And, now the album just gets silly-good. Songs like “66 Angel Eyez” and “U.S. Tank” will maul your ears with riffs of oddly Raven/Pentagram amalgam (hey, maybe that does make sense, since they both had the same drummer at times). Sheezus, the latter is one of the most appropriately-named cuts in ages as it sounds like damn tank treads running over your head. Can you spell K-I-C-K-A-S-S?! Bringing this long-awaited jewel down the home stretch are a couple more plunderers in the name of “Love Me To Death” and “The Tall Man” before the band have the monumental audacity to attempt one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time, Kiss’ “God Of Thunder.” Things like this generally go one of 2 ways: classic covers or massive train wrecks. Suffice it to say, this one is the former and if your fist isn’t pumping in the air now, you need to lick Gene Simmons…and Rob Graves’ boots! Bringing things to a close are the massive “In The Raw,” segueing into the terrific horror outro of “Dark Dominion.” I have to give special kudos for his work throughout the album to current RIPPER guitarist Stephen Bogle. This dude is the kinda player who will not dazzle you with Julliard chops…and thank God for that!...but would rather take a rusty can opener to your head and give you a direct metallic implant of timeless rifferama.

In short, could there be anything cooler than this? The 2nd RIPPER album (finally!), complete with creepy cover art, a gorgeous booklet and all on the legendary Black Widow imprint. 2009 is off to a fucking bang with a release like this mutha, so send Mass your money! 10.0

NIGHT HORSE – “The Dark Won’t Hide You” CD ’08 (Tee Pee, US) – I often wonder about my ol’ buddy David. See, David was a real cool fellow the likes of whom I used to trade tapes with back in the day. You remember, don’t you? Those small, rectangular plastic thingy’s with the 2 spools where the tape wound from one to the other, then you turned it over & played the other side? Anyway, David & I used to exchange these damn things through the mail and they would typically be chock full of whatever motorin’ stuff we had unearthed at the local record mill…coulda been anything from heavy rock to metal to folk to indie, you name it, we were always regaling each other with something that would blow the other away…or not. We were quick to point out a misguided piece of shit just as much as the latest godly platter. One of the godly platters that crossed my magnetic heads thanks to David was a snappy little EP by Soundgarden called “Screaming Life.” And, that’s where we join NIGHT HORSE…as for all the world, they remind me of the Thayil, Cornell etc. conglomerate before they became a “conglomerate.” Yep, this is heavy, thudding rock with a dark, feral element that makes you sit up and take notice. It’s a short record, no tracks that I’d consider epic and yet a damn fine listen all the way through. Much in the way the aforementioned Garden grew it’s own branches and never floundered under the so-called grunge umbrella, so NIGHT HORSE raise their bluesy hard rock beyond the typical. Tracks like “Shine On Me” and the title number display vocals melodies that stick and guitar leads that cut. A classic? Well, no, but a record you’ll sure as hell play more than once. 7.0

TRASHCAN DANCE – “Doomsday Disco” CD ’08 (Private, Fin) – When I think of Finland and rawk, my mind always rolls around to HANOI ROCKS. Damn, I had some fun listening to rekids like “Oriental Beat” & “Two Steps From The Move.” Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy were about as “toxic” a twins as you could get and ditties like “Motorvatin’” were part of the soundtrack to my years working in the record store. Well, I’m here to tell you that while TRASHCAN DANCE are also from Finland, they ain’t no HANOI ROCKS. In fairness, this is pretty cool trashy-punky stuff, with a slight dose of metal. The herky-jerky rhythms and spastic vocals are enough to keep you awake & liven any party you might be thinking about throwing in your dorm, although the title cut gets too arty for it’s own good & the energy wanes in the latter half of the disc. Interesting band, though, and worth a listen. 6.0


Michael said...

Whoa. Shock horror, indeed. Never heard of em before I read this post, but the MySpace tunage tells me RIPPER are gonna be the new kings/queens of my ipod, at least for a while. It gets me thinking vintage 45 GRAVE crossed with bitchen JESTERS OF DESTINY, which are great things to be reminded of. Thanks Ray!

raysrealm said...

Wow! You've just name-checked a couple pretty dang great things! I'm sure Mr. Graves & RIPPER will love u for that! Stay tuned for an interview with the very same Mr. Graves on this site!