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Little New to the Table - 78%

Film, April 6th, 2021

This band is supposedly named after a pub in rural Høland, Norway. In turn, that pub was probably named after the Candlemass song. Under the Oak even covers Candlemass, but does not follow Candlemass' style on this debut album from 2020. Ripped Up by the Roots is retro-thrash / neo-thrash from the first guitar stroke.

Speaking of debut album, the musicians are far from novices. The singer was a part of a heavy metal band in Høland in the 1980s (the band was called Fury), and remarkably makes a metal comeback 30 years later. His ability to hit high notes is certainly not a drawback on Ripped Up by the Roots. Indeed, are there any technical drawbacks at all? Probably not. The musicians are all competent and the production leaves nothing to be desired. It's also somewhat refreshing to hear a Norwegian thrash band that doesn't lean towards black thrash.

In the years from 2005 to 2020, retro-thrash has swept across the globe with hundreds of new bands appearing, and almost every old school thrash band doing a reunion. In this pretty saturated landscape, there is little about Under the Oak that stands out from the ever-growing crowd. The album's instrumental competence is also a consequence of the band members having been swamped in the scene for decades, taking in thousands of metal songs. Thereby the prospect of refreshing perspectives and original songwriting has been minimized. Albeit not headless and limp, these bodies contain no surprises..

The band's textbook neo-thrash could have gotten an original tinge from something other than the music; be it the artwork, the message... This chances were missed as the album cover and the lyrics are both fairly generic. The person who decided on an album runtime of 1 hour should also be prosecuted. The listener that manages to stay alert for the full hour is the real hero here. Nonetheless, the grade can't go much below 8/10. Every song is listenable by itself, so the album hits the default mark, a place on the quality scale populated by hundreds of unadultered thrash bands with competent singers.