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Not Up To Snuff - 45%

soul_schizm, July 10th, 2011

Risk is a great band that put out plenty of top-notch thrash and groovy metal, but their final sendoff was a massive disappointment and deserves to be called out as such. I can understand a slip from a band -- hey, it happens. And, to be sure, stylistic changes were afoot before Turpitude came along. The Reborn -- a fantastic, groove-laden effort -- was already a significant break from the band's thrash roots. Heck, the band itself existed in a far different form before even becoming Risk. So without question one cannot expect them to stick with one style to the bitter end. That wouldn't be fair, and so I will not slight them merely for the changeup.

But this is different. Turpitude is sub-par, not well thought out, and ultimately chock full of boring material that needed much more work before release.

The CD opens with Cry, which begins with a Phantasmagoria-like strum of acoustic chords, then launches into a promising detuned grooved-out progression. Heinz's vocals are lithium-esque disinterested talking, serving as a counterpoint to the chorus scream: "and I CRY!!!." OK, well not exactly imaginative -- but still, this is probably one of the better songs on the album, if for no other reason than it has a nice rhythm and pounds its point home with the emotion it sets out to achieve. By the end of the song, however, I found myself wanting something.....else. Something additional that just wasn't there.

...and the same theme is continued with Materialized. Another slow, plodding riff that seems to go nowhere. Heinz deciding not to sing again. Hey, I'm a huge fan of Be No More, which is the same kind of performance. But the difference is, Be No More is actually fucking awesome. This just meanders around, chords changing but going nowhere. The chorus is alright I guess. Again, it sounds alot like Phantasmagoria, but much, much worse.

I mean, you can't just pound the same eighth-note palm muting on random chords. Come on. Risk is supposed to know better than that. They've been in the business for ages. What the hell. Write a fucking riff. We already know you can do it.

Not True picks up the tempo, and generally succeeds, but is nearly ruined with a bush-league shouted chorus. I mean, seriously? We go from awesome monk chanting to garage band shout choruses? Wow.

The 2nd half of the CD sees the band engaging in a lot of minimalist stomping, such as with the mid-tempo pounder Squeeze My Skull and Brains -- a song which, if nothing else, will bring a smile to your face for the title. The music itself is grinding and generally effective, but somewhat unremarkable. Stripping down the riffage and compositions is an interesting idea, but it's a tricky business. Playing simpler music is only effective when it's catchy. Here it isn't. It's a morass. Just random palm-muting and stomping, punctuated by vocal lines that aren't all that memorable. Case in point: Show No Mercy. And really, any number of other tracks as well. In short, Risk doesn't pull it off.

There are a few better moments, such as the strangely alluring ballad Hopeless Ground, which sits in a well of depression and wallows there with good results, until upping the ante with an effective distorted rhythm and solo comp to the end of the tune.

And interestingly enough, the closing track Serious Mysterious, which sounds plenty like someone really REALLY liked Phantasmagoria, works in its own wandering, dazed-out way.

But overall Turpitude is a CD that shouldn't have been released. Not like this. Someone needed to ask the question, "is this good enough?" Because the answer would have been NO. And then the boys could have gotten down to work, fixed the problems, and put out worthy final record. I really hate to pan a band as good as Risk, and it's a fucking shame it had to end like this.

Who are you, and what have you done to this band? - 52%

autothrall, February 11th, 2011

Turpitude is the 5th and final album from Risk, and it's just as well, because this the first upon which the ambition of the band seemed to finally catch up with them in years. The content is not a far cry from its predecessor The Reborn, but the band had sacrificed some of the epic compositions there for a more bland repository of atmosphere, dull power/thrash. There are very few tracks here which provoke the urge for even a second listen, and without exception these are the ones that sound closest to out-takes of The Reborn. When comparing that album to the band's entertaining early work like The Ratman EP or The Daily Horror News, one can hear the strained but not unnatural progression. But line this up against the debut and you have to wonder 'where did all the spirit and fun disappear to?'

Straight down the drain. The acoustic intro to "Cry" cedes to a basic series of slow, smudged riffs that serve only as a catalyst to the more interesting, swarthy vocal melody, while a mystical guitar line hides off in the backdrop. It's not awful, but really needed to be followed with some energy, which "Materialized" is not, just another pedestrian stream of dull chugged mutes that accompany similar vocals to the first track. There are many other indistinct tracks here, like the groovy but forgettable "So Weird" with its awkward chorus, "And We Don't Care" or "Show No Mercy", which sounds like a half-retread of "Materialized". At best, you get some modern power/thrash with similarities to late 90s Rage: "Squeeze My Skull and Brains" and the sad "Hopeless Ground", but even these sound like the band had thrown in the towel, and not fit to even shine the boots of The Reborn.

It's a terrible thing, when a band like Risk dishevels at the seams, after so many years, starting as Faithful Breath in the damned 70s. What's even sadder is that all of the members here seem to have given up on metal entirely after this recording, retiring to their families and other interests. Turpitude was not the proper note to leave on, almost as if the 'wrongdoing' implication of the title should be taken literally. But the saga of the monkey, crocodile, hippo and piranha will always live on through their inspirational debut album and the reasonable qualities of the follow-ups that led up to this one.