Becoming the undisputed leader of the death/thrash resurgence of the last few years is not an easy task nor is it something that Chile’s Ripper probably even thought about or aspired to do. But on their second full length Experiment of Existence the crown belongs to them alone and rightfully so. Even though the album is a speeding locomotive of letter precise 80’s to 90’s thrash on the surface its heart bleeds death metal in the vein of Possessed and early Death, just to name a couple that fit the bill.
No doubt there will be a couple of different camps with this album. The first will be those that have heard this all before and would just assume listen to the ‘classics’. The other will be the ones who, despite the fact of having heard this before will get excited for a new release that not only burns the barn down with boundless energy but also is of the highest quality. However, both camps will find plenty here to snap their necks with and if either misses out, shame on them.
The opening triplet of tracks are overflowing with blast beats, furious guitar work and bass lines that are right up front in the mix. Venus Torment’s vocals are a dark, brutish mix of Mille Petrozza and Jeff Becerra as he effortlessly combines the two styles, not a lot of variance but he’s straight to the point and never misses a beat. Instrumental “Anatomy of the Galaxies” opens the flood gates to ridiculous guitar driven passages — the towering riffs and breakout solos are simply amazing. Then on the flip side “Chromatic Fantasy”, another instrumental, showcases Pablo Cortés’ fascinating and beautiful bass work, made even more captivating with the soothing high notes through the closing seconds.
Unmistakably, this band has chops for thrash but the biggest takeaway is how proficiently they conjure up classic death metal. Classic, as in when it was more about sounding as evil as possible and having that transfer to the listener in lieu of blowing a load on technical proficiency that doesn’t have staying power past a couple spins. “Stellar Evolution” is one such song, starting doomy then picking up speed to an Altars of Madness-esque crescendo with its outlandish time signatures and crunch heavy riffs.
The production is crystal clear, allowing every instrument space to breathe. The band’s debut Raising the Corpse isn’t nearly as clear as this and both are equally awe-inspiring but the step up in sound quality sets this one a little ahead. The only other difference between the two is the songwriting. Not that it needed much touching up to begin with, but they’ve managed to make this album an altogether tighter and more focused beast than the last. No wasted efforts anywhere and no change in course or direction. Which really is just to say, if searching for death/thrash that is devoid of any of the comedic and nonsensical trappings that have plagued the genre over the years then look no further. The talent in this band is astonishing and with two releases of laser-like precision they are indeed the best and most honest thing that has happened in this era of revivalism.
On Experiment of Existence, Ripper don’t have anything to prove yet still give two black eyes to any and all comers with aspirations of revisiting sacred ground while making us, the listeners, happy. Even though no new ground is tread, the album is a thrilling, enjoyable ride and has absolutely no weak points and no filler.