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This Is How You OSDM - 90%

MostlyYelling, August 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Originally written and published on my site, MostlyYelling

Andrew Lee rooted down in the death metal scene last year with his band Disincarnation's only demo. The band promptly broke up after the release, propelling Lee to operate as a solo artist named Ripped to Shreds. Armed with the only Disincarnation song he wrote by himself and seven new tracks, Lee has disinterred a compelling and successfully diverse death metal album that nauseatingly reeks of rot.

Between the opening notes of "Craven Blood" and the artwork for 埋葬, it's clear Lee is going for a sound and aesthetic both torn from an ancient grave. Lee exhumes OSDM influences like Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Dismember, Asphyx, and Grave, and creates his own Frankenstein's monster of death metal, but one made in his own image. The classic Swedish buzzsaw guitar tone is all over 埋葬 as Lee single-handedly navigates cold and musty passages of crushing death metal, racing grind, and crusty doom below the dilapidated tomb on the album's cover.

Hit play on any song and you'll be greeted by something entirely different. "撿骨" comes rushing out of the gate like an even more pissed off than usual Bloodbath track, while "罌粟花" somberly walks through the veil with slow and brooding Khemmis-like lead guitar work. I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention the vocals on the ending section of "Open Grave." Next time anyone or any press release compares vocals to shrieks or any type of painful outcry, remind them that they ain't got shit on "Open Grave."

It feels impossible to talk about 埋葬 without diving into the name and meaning behind the record. Lee explains to Decibel the name of the album, pronounced mai-zang and meaning burial, saying "it's a reference to Entombed, whose influence is obviously all over this album, and on the other hand, it refers to how Asian-Americans are 'buried' and invisible in the nation’s discourse, which I felt was relevant as the album is a pure reflection of myself."

He adds that he wanted to explore Chinese history as a topic for death metal because he feels it's "uncharted territory." His choices are still extremely metal. For instance, "Yellow River Incident, 1938" covers the largest act of environmental warfare in history when the central China Nationalist Government flooded the river to stop Japanese forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The incident left about 500,000 dead, many Chinese civilians, and blighted the land for years to come. Lee's music might sound morbid, but dig into the song topics and you'll find they're just as heavy lyrically.

埋葬 is gripping. It's a masterclass in drawing upon old-school influences but saying something artistically that couldn't have been said before all its predecessors had spoken. 埋葬 is one of those albums that every single track I was convinced the dropoff would be shortly after, because come on – nobody can keep it this interesting this long. But it never came. The composition on 埋葬 is unreal. There isn't a riff or solo that goes by that doesn't seem to have some sort of pre-determined endpoint. It's as if Lee sat down and purposefully wrote every single line to flow together as one piece, as opposed to mashing together sections or looping riffs as a vehicle for vocals and solos.

Speaking of solos, holy hell. The solos. It's clear Lee can play well with the intensity and speed of the riffs strewn about 埋葬, but then you get to songs like "God Worshipping Society" and your skull is knocked clean off your shoulders. Basically, every time you think you have 埋葬 all figured out, just know that you don't. At all.

埋葬 sounds disgusting but it's still well-produced. It's tough to call this intentionally lo-fi because really, you can distinguish all the instruments from one another and it sounds good. Gross, but good. Lee clearly put thought into lead and rhythm guitar tones, as well as getting a good rhythm section going. So great music, solid old-school sound with tons of modern flair, and brutal topics that aren't just the musings of some third-rate sci-fi writer. As far as death metal goes, this is the one to top this year.

Swedish Inspired Awesomeness! - 100%

Akerthorpe, April 28th, 2018

Ripped to Shreds is a death metal band from the Bay area in California and the new album, “Burial” is sure to be an album talked about once it makes its sufficient rounds in the world of underground metal. This is a release that is absolutely insane with talent and it will take you back to the days of old when metal was metal and original. This release is deeply rooted in tradition and heavily influenced by the Swedish masters. So, you can be sure that what you are hearing is not a copycat band but, rather, a work of art created with the intention of spreading discord and agony with the use of these influences and other cultural incentives as well. I was so impressed and enthralled with this release, I played it twice, back to back!

As I said before, this CD is heavily influenced By the Swedish masters, especially in the riff department. Look for things to be in the vein of old Entombed and the ever obscure Nirvana 2002, as well as elements of early Dismember. Ancient and timeless is this wretched sound with a little early Grave implemented to cement and homage and show complete reverence with this six string insanity. There is respect beyond respect with each chord played, and when you listen on, the massiveness of the riffs shakes you to the very core. The style is nothing short of perfection here. The drums are of the old school/traditional style of playing and it will be sure to evoke memories from the late 80’s to the early 90’s when this style was fresh and new. Especially with the double bass. It’s not insanely fast, but rather extremely “thick” sounding and well produced. Very primitive as it should be, meaning there is very little technical aspect to the drumming. Its just straightforward, in your face, pummeling the way it was meant to be. The bass lines are spot on accurate and mixed at the right level to compliment the riffs. What I like here is, even the bass has a little “bite” to it. This causes the bass to seemingly “integrate” with the guitars where necessary for a seamless presentation of auditory bliss. The icing on the cake is the vocals. Imagine Entombed “Left Hand Path”, Nirvana 2002 “Slumber”, Grave “You’ll Never See”, and Exhumed “Gore Metal”, mixed together and you have summed up an awesomely glorious vocal pattern for this release. This pattern really fits with the aura that the music creates and couldn’t have been done better. Put everything together and you have a nice thick slab of obscure sounding Swedish death metal worshiping madness.

What makes this even more over the top is that 1 man does it all with the exception of back up vocals. This man is Andrew Lee. Vocals, bass, guitar, drums, Andrew is a beast! Much more respect is due to this man for including his own special touch by adding a cultural and historical aspect to his music. I can tell that these are things that he holds close and cherishes quite a bit. This only adds another fathom to the depths of his reverence for this music. This reverence carries over to that of the dead. I respect that and his efforts have resulted in an outstanding release that is sure to attract anyone who loves Swedish inspired death metal or even death metal in general. Support Andrew Lee and support Ripped to Shreds!

## - 95%

goniloc, April 4th, 2018

This isn’t your grandmother’s Entombed worship: Andrew Lee’s solo project Ripped to Shreds may employ the ever-popular buzzsaw tone pioneered by the Swedes, but the project’s debut album is laced with a personality all it’s own. There’s a certain intricacy to the riffs that breathes life into 埋葬 while staying well within the realm of ‘dynamic’ and far out of the treacherous grasp of ‘pretentiously technical.’ Nothing crazy is going on with the songwriting, but it still manages to be markedly engaging and fun to listen to in its entirety, largely in part due to it’s constant forward progression. Ripped to Shreds is able to tastefully avoid the pitfall of relying on one good riff and trying to hobble through an full song with it. Don’t get me wrong, there is an abundance of fantastic riffs to be heard on 埋葬 (shout-out to the opening of ‘Open Grave’), but there’s too much creativity going into this project to waste it on one good melody. It’s worth noting that I found the second half (side B for you cassette creeps) to be considerably less memorable than the first, but the track ordering is logical and the album still manages to be an impressive output for a single man.

The production stands out as one of 埋葬‘s strongest facets, and one that gives the album a sinister sense of clarity. Each layer of Ripped to Shred’s inaugural release locks together and forms a tightly knit wave of sound that’s powerful enough to knock you on your ass within the first minute, but at the same time, they can each be singled out and appreciated in their own way. The drumming, for instance, which is notoriously problematic for solo projects, is laid down in patterns that suit the song structure logically and supply a vital part of the album’s intensity. When it works, it works perfectly, but there are a few moments where it sounds a bit mechanical. That being said, in regards to the mix, nothing gets drowned out and nothing steals the spotlight (except maybe that delicious guitar tone at times). It’s like watching a barrage of hellfire come down at you at a delicate, considerate pace so that you have time to appreciate exactly what’s in the debris about to destroy you. Why, does that ball of fire have a core made entirely of vocals reminiscent of early Horrendous? And hey, there goes a chunk of background on Chinese burial rituals! How lovely.

Regarding the album title, and overall concept: 埋葬 translates from Chinese to burial, or tomb. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that burial is a groundbreaking topic for death metal, but while death and postmortem rituals are touched upon throughout the full length, this release is more so a take on Chinese culture and history (19th century to early 20th century) from a death metal frame of mind. This allows for a uniquely thematic album, and an interesting spin on traditional extreme metal tropes. It doesn’t quite qualify as a gimmick because, as far as I can tell, the theme has no impact on the actual musical composition; there’s hard-hitting and intense death bits and some soulful, eighties-horror style doom sections, but nothing that screams ‘China’ beyond the lyrics, song titles, and album artwork.

Ripped to Shreds is like the reanimated remains of Andrew Lee’s previous project, Disincarnation. 埋葬 even includes a much stronger and more professional recording of the song “Talisman to Seal the Hopping Corpse Before It Steals Your Qi” off of said band’s one and only EP. But if that’s the case, then this must be one of those B-movies where the zombies are significantly faster and deadlier than any living person, because Ripped to Shreds is able to crush in a way that Disincarnation couldn’t come close to capturing. The production is the most noticeable difference but altogether Ripped to Shreds demonstrates a smarter and more coherent approach to writing love letters to the Swedish scene of old. Passing on this new album would be like passing on maintaining your ancestor’s burial site: it’ll only leave you haunted by shame and regret.

Review taken from IndyMetalVault: