The years in between can be a laborious grand leveller for a creative mind that’d grown a thousand new capillaries for the sake of burgeoning evolutionary thought. Having reached with capable arms towards a grip upon satiation the muso with any integrity immediately regrets any point of satisfaction if only for the damning effects– Tunnel vision is broken and all future-seeking behavior resigns into dormancy. A break between releases is admirable for the sake of experience driving the hand of the artist towards breakthrough or some measure of reflection. Or, in the case of the undying metalhead zealot, it offers some time to focus on side projects. Talagante, Chile thrashers Ripper took their time working their way up the immense ranks of the Chilean ‘old school’ underground as teenagers starting in 2007 and it’d be a full decade before they’d need a rest. To be sure ‘Experiment of Existence’ (2016) was a high accomplishment as the project moved beyond late 80’s Kreator worship towards the Sadus-esque brutal thrash of their second LP; Here in 2019 the band reappears presenting what may be their strongest and most distinct achievement yet with the ‘Sensory Stagnation’ EP.
In the past I could have pointed to ‘A Vision of Misery’ from Sadus and thrown in some references to Torturer and Seprevation for reference and you’d more or less understand what Ripper sounded like but with ‘Sensory Stagnation’ their prog-tech death/thrash influenced vision reaches a brighter, more organic implementation worthy of Stargazer, Violent Dirge (see: ‘Craving‘) and the seed for any other obscurity I could namedrop: ‘Piece of Time’ era Atheist. If you’re familiar with the sub-genre specifics here the implication is that the wobbly prog-death basslines buried in the mix of ‘Experiment of Existence’ are now unveiled and prominent in the mix, allowing for the broad strokes of Ripper‘s death/thrash style to dance an brutal tarantella amidst those cerebral, psychotropic basslines. Not sure where I’m coming from? Well, more broadly speaking, a fan of Death‘s ‘Independent Thought Patterns’ would likely be thrilled by this record, even if generally nonplussed by rabid Chilean death/thrash otherwise.
Three years worth of neuronal enrichment persist throughout this fine EP, which feels dangerously close to a full-length at a very dense and dynamically gorgeous 20 minute length. The raw grain of the rhythm guitar tone on “The Unreal” bleeds out quickly into an immersive structure, essentially a playground for the bassist (assumed still Pablo Cortés) who does not direct the flow of movement but colors it as it pours down the complex spiral of shred and riff that ensues. ‘Sensorial Stagnation’ is not only a new peak of inspirational work from Ripper but one of the finer captures of death metal’s too-early tech-enlightenment of the late 80’s. They’re still a thrash metal band, though, and as such the structures here aren’t amorphous in any sense, rather meticulous even by the highest technical thrash metal standards where the early life of progressive death metal crosses over stellarly. The last two tracks on the EP “Like a Sacrilege” and “Terror Streets” could be considered slightly more straightforward and offer a clear connection with the previous album’s post-Kreator pro-‘Chemical Exposure’ attack otherwise.
Of course this is exactly my shit, my kind of jam, a hundred solid riffs in a tank-blasted 20 minute span, and an incredible development in the history of this, one of the finest thrash bands out of Chile to date. Hell I’d recommend it for the bass guitar performances alone but Ripper have always been able to sling riffs like they’d invented the damn things and no doubt this helps ‘Sensorial Stagnation’ hold up over many, many listens. Very high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest the opening combo of “Dissociation” and “The Unreal” as they’ll quickly communicate this ‘next level’ shift for the band.
Total neuronal unification. 4.5/5.0
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