In striking out on his own and taking control of his idealist old school death metal vision Andrew Lee has dropped a nuclear wave of morbidity upon the tired and dissolving ghost of European death metal legacy. Formed from the frustrated ashes of the already exceptional Disincarnation, whose promising demo ‘By the Old Gods and the New’ shares a small chunk of DNA with ‘埋葬’, Ripped to Shreds saw Lee essentially chose full creative control and performance rather than attempt to staff his ideas with hard-to-find like-minded musicians. But honestly Ripped to Shreds‘ sound and song-writing aren’t worthy of praise simply for being a one man show. The value here lies in memorable death metal songwriting, varied and enthusiastic performances, and a well-wrought polish provided by Damian Herring of Horrendous who’d given a similarly tasteful mix/master to Witch Vomit previous. ‘埋葬’ ups the ante for distortion expressionists within the confines of death metal’s most popular traditions.
Though you’ll immediately get a skull full of Boss HM-2 fuzz I wouldn’t just toss Ripped to Shreds in with the endlessly growing heap of buzzsaw-born Swedish death ritualists. Bits and pieces of Disincarnation‘s demo offered glints of Finnish death metal and ‘埋葬’ isn’t a one-speed meat grinder at all, but you’re getting a Swedish buzzsaw on guitars, love it or hate it. If I were to simply focus on the guitar work I hear a lot of the same intentions that Lasse Pyykkö (Phelgethon, Hooded Menace) put forth in his also fully solo group Claws. Clearly ‘Absorbed in the Nethervoid’ didn’t capture any sense of Dismember/Carnage but the overall statement is similarly conceived and complete.
Though the saw is largely the law here “Talisman to Seal the Hopping Corpse Before it Steals Your Qi” is not only built weightily upon since Disincarnation‘s demo but it is the first point on the album where I really hear the influence of ‘Realm of Chaos’ era Bolt Thrower in the actual guitar performances. I definitely hear plenty of ‘Realm of Chaos’ / ‘Warmaster’ in ‘埋葬’ but as I spun it over and over there were a few records I’d likewise compare it to. Most importantly is probably Cadaver‘s ‘Hallucinating Anxiety’ for it’s similar intensity and occasionally unpredictable changes and Utumno for similar sound and I think any track off ‘Light of Day’ would fit in perfectly on it’s tracklist if you roughed it up a bit. That said, I don’t think resemblance and nostalgia carry me through death metal records like this anymore and I largely stuck around for what Ripped to Shreds for the strong performances excepting the quiet bass presence.
Lee‘s vocals are relatively uninhibited but never venture into shrieking psychopathy and “Red Annihilation” is a good example of his ability to adapt to his compositional demands; The conclusion of the track called for a burst of grindcore and he attacks it with the confidence of a coked out late 80’s death/thrash vocalist. “Open Grave” briefly has me wondering what this might’ve sounded like if BW (Draghkar) but I generally prefer Lee’s inflection over BW’s more ‘Scream Bloody Gore’-esque voicing. The layered approach to vocals is impeccable in arrangement and serves to highlight the intense transitions within each song and this is one of the most important takeaways that old school minded modern death metal bands miss today: Build and release was a huge part of compositional dynamics in 80’s extreme metal. Ripped to Shreds nails this aspect and should click immediately with long time fans or hipster folks who’d prefer to ostrich-dunk their shit in early 90’s death noise forever. It sure as hell clicked with me.
I dunno, I could go on and on about the excellent drumming that knows the exact right moment to blast, to d-beat, and crawl. I could rave about the unique cultural point of view offered within meditations on the subject of death, burial, and historical massacre. But hey, at this point you should be as sold as possible without actually hearing the damn thing. I can safely say this is one of the more inspired, savage and cerebrally-honed old school death metal examples of the year. Definitely give the whole A-side a listen and stick around for “Yellow River Incident, 1938” and “Red Annihilation” on the second half.
|Released||March 27, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Ripped to Shreds on Facebook|
Eight round death-meditation. 4.0/5.0
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