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Badass, pulpy as fuck B-Horror (in musical form) - 83%

Jophelerx, January 4th, 2019

Ripper seems to be pretty much unknown or at least unappreciated as a band, which does make some sense since their only album for a very long time was today's topic, ..and the Dead Shall Rise. However, it is quite an album, one which may be overlooked by many who read the MA reviews due to the sole review, until this one, being a rather negative one by autothrall. To be fair, if you read the actual review, he's not terribly negative towards it, and frankly the 63% he gives is kind of baffling, since everything in the description, judging by his scoring system in other reviews, amounts to at least something in the 70-75 range, but anyway, that's neither here nor there. I'm hoping to get some people interested in this great collection of cheesy, fun, over the top horror metal songs!

"Death Awaits You" opens out the album, and it embodies everything I love about the album, with the gruff, ominous vocals, lovably cheesy synths, and driving riffs building an atmosphere not unlike one of many werewolf-themed B-movies. In fact, I find this band to have quite a few similarities to Seasons of the Wolf, whose debut album wouldn't come out until a full decade after the release of ...and The Dead Shall Rise. The general aesthetics of the bands are extremely similar, and both manage to retain songwriting quality and quality musicianship while sitll hamming everything up as much as possible. Admittedly, the fact that there are fairly long synth intros to several tracks on the album does take away from it somewhat, but that's really the only major complaint I have of it. Even when there's just a single simple riff playing, the main vocalist (I know there are more than one, but I'm talking about the one on tracks like "Death Awaits You" and "The Executioner") is so adept at effortlessly performing absurdly over-the-top vocal acrobatics that I'm never bored (except sometimes in the intros). Some of the stylisms remind me a bit of Anthony Lionetti from Matthias Steele, though the main vocalist is not quite on that god-tier level--but is still highly talented.

The female vocalist and bassist, Sadie Paine, is quite talented as well, and does an admirable job of banshee shrieking her way through "Night Cruizer" and performing a cool duet with the main vocalist in "Don't Tie Me Down." She sometimes reminds me a bit of King Diamond, whom the band clearly drew aesthetic influence from, at the very least. It's far from Mercyful Fate worship, though, even with Paine taking the helm; the riffing style here, while fairly simple, is quite distinct, reminding me more of Death SS than anyone, but still different enough that it's clearly its own style; one that's menacing but never to the point that it becomes legitimately frightening or disturbing; it keeps a healthy dose of the NWOBHM/early heavy metal style from the early 80s, a fusion which complements the cheesy horror-comedy aesthetic present in the synths, vocals, and lyrics. The soloing can also be quite involved and technically impressive, while still retaining a strong idea of what context it's in and what it needs to add to the overall atmosphere. A prime example of this is in "Halloween," which features a pretty crazy display of ominous virtuosity.

In fact, since all four members are credited with sharing vocals, some of the tracks I consider to be the "main" vocalist may in fact be two different band members who manage to have convincingly similar styles and timbres; there's clearly a different vocalist on "Sinister Mister" who's less adept, making the track one of the weaker ones, though the chorus still hits hard enough to make it an ultimately worthwhile song. The fact that the other three members all seem to be highly competent and at least moderately charismatic vocalists is pretty impressive in and of itself, and therein lies the greatest strength of this album, I think; the band's ability to work so well together to produce something whose atmosphere is so consistent requires a high level of awareness and understanding of each person's role in keeping things squarely in B-horror movie territory. Overall, this album manages to stay incredibly fun while having occasional moments of musical brilliance and never any musical defecit to the point that it becomes unenjoyable ("Sinister Mister" comes close at times, but I still find it to be fun enough). For fans of pulpy horror, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, or really just fun heavy metal, this is something you'll want to hear sooner rather than later.