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I need an ambulance!!! - 90%

mjollnir, April 12th, 2014

It seems that there are a huge amount of young bands coming out now that give a huge nod to the old school in the music they create. Some of it is not that great but the majority of it that I've heard is actually really good. They may not be re-inventing the genre with new and innovative ideas but they are giving a fresh young spin on an old school metal. Finland's Ranger is one of those bands and I just happen to find them mentioned on Fenriz' Band of the Week Facebook page. Upon further investigation, I found their 2013 EP entitled Knights of Darkness and was pleasantly surprised at the sheer aggressiveness of this speed metal band's music. They remind me of old Exciter in a way and this EP did not disappoint in the slightest.

This is a short five song EP but starts off in the right direction with the song "Ranger." What we have are crushing speed metal riffs and solos. The vocals sound more like thrash style rasps and screams. The riffs really do make this song as they pummel you into submission by forcing you to bang your fuckin' head unmercifully. The solos are fast and massive. There is some melody here and there some dual leads but mostly this is speed and more speed....and not flower metal speed but pure speed metal. The lyrics are a tad cheesy but they work with this kind of music. "Touch of Death" starts of with some inhuman screams over top of huge riffs. This song is lightening fast and the solos are so good. The drummer is a beast as he just pounds the fuck outta the drums. Two songs in and I need a fuckin' neck brace!

After a rest for my neck and a shot of oxygen, I prepare to get my ass kicked again as the rest of the EP does not let up at all. You have "Steel Dawn" and "Supreme Evil" that continue the beating with their monster riffs and lightening fast solos. The vocalist could break glass with his screams. But these guys are not a one trick pony because the last song on the album, which is the title track, isn't the pummeling speed fest that made up the earlier songs. This song actually starts off anthemic with less speed but more emphasis on a crushing main riff. The soloing on this song is just godly as the song picks up speed as it goes along finally getting to break neck (literally) speed. Once again the singer's screams are earth shattering. Towards the end it slows down in an epic way as you are left drenched in sweat and your neck broken.

That was one hell of a ride! This album left me in traction. I must also mention the production here since it sounds really old school. It's clean production but not over polished. I'm tempted to say this is an analog production with no tricks or triggers. These guys are a band to be reckoned with. If you like your metal fast and furious then this is the band for you. This is another band I've my eye on because I want to hear much more from these guys. I want to hear a proper album by these guys...even if it kills my old ass!!

Speed Metal from Hell!! - 90%

Zerberus, October 4th, 2013

The artwork says it all: Black background, painted chrome logo, four black figures in front of a nighttime cityscape, and a small sticker with the words "skull splitting metal" around a fanged skull. Knights of Darkness is one of those records you love to bust out and show your friends for a night of binge drinking and shouting to the sound of shredding guitars and high-pitched screams, straight from Finland in a classic 80's speed metal style with no shenanigans. Ranger started out as Turbin and have since released 3 demos until releasing the Knights of Darkness EP through Ektro/Full Contact Records in 2013.

Following in the wake of what some like to call the "new wave of traditional heavy metal" their style is dark and gritty, energetic and fast. The wild feel of Ranger's music brings to mind Speedtrap, another Finnish speed metal band that are perhaps a bit more prominent in the scene. It also speaks of a band that aren't concerned with following a specific trend or norm, as they are much more coarse in their approach to songwriting and recording than many other contemporary speed metal bands. Their songwriting is nowhere near as clean or centered around "epic" sounds as many of the more well-known acts within the scene, instead focusing on a more raw thrash approach instead of one fuelled by heavy metal, sometimes bringing to mind the early output of bands like Slayer, Whiplash, Exciter and Razor. Infused with hellish guitar solos and near-constant d-beats the Finnish band is an entity that does not want to conform or slow down. The coarse vocals of Dimi lean mostly on singers like Cronos and Tom Araya, but with songs like Touch of Death the vocalist shows that he too has the capacity for falsetto-like screams of the highest pitch.

Followers of acts like Enforcer and White Wizzard will likely be dismayed by the crude production on Knights of Darkness, but what it lacks in sound quality Ranger definitely make up for in sheer speed and the caliber of their songwriting. There are times when speed metal becomes boring to listen to because it's always fast all the time with squeaky guitars and falsetto screams, and in some cases it ends up being a mess of riffs too fast for human fingers, resulting in a lot of songs sounding bland. By taking a thrashy approach Ranger have circumvented this issue that plagues many similar bands. This is not about immersion, sophistication or finesse, and it's definitely not some misbegotten notion that metal should be played or written with great refinement or elegance that drives this piece of metal forward. And true to this idea Ranger's Knights of Darkness EP keeps things simple with just over 20 minutes of simply tasteful use of fast down-strokes, d-beats and screams.

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