BLADE OF THE RIPPER’s particular brand of Metal can be described in a single word: old. The Louisville quintet blast their way back to the late Seventies/early Eighties with their self-titled debut from Devil Doll Records and their playing recalls the pseudo-thrash bands of the era such as MOTÖRHEAD. The whole album has a kind of raw, bare-bones atmosphere to it, which really gives it that authentic early Heavy Metal feel.
Singer Adam Neal rasps his way through each of the album’s ten tracks and while he’s not exactly pleasant to listen to, he can still write a decent vocal melody, as evidenced by “Unholy Night”, my favorite track on the record. BLADE OF THE RIPPER also boasts a competent double axe-attack in lead player Chris Tonegawa and rhythm player Mike Oerther, whose twin-guitar antics liven up tracks like “Bare-Breasted Countess”. Plus, they’ve got enough balls to sneak in an acoustic guitar on several tracks.
That being said, BLADE OF THE RIPPER also have some serious kinks they need to iron out. Only two of the album’s ten tracks eclipse the mark lengthwise (four of them don’t even hit 3 minutes!), causing the total playing time to be just over half an hour. Due to this, many tracks seem extremely short. Also, there’s the issue of songwriting; many songs are written using the exact same chords. I mean, while listening to the album, I didn’t even notice when “Possessed By The Night” became “The Bite”. What’s more, the intros to “Bare-Breasted Countess” and “Infinite Darkness” are nearly identical.
There are some engineering issues on the album as well. The acoustic guitars on “Castle Walls” and “Unholy Night” are extremely quiet, as is Neal’s voice on the intro to the former. I’m not a fan of drummer Chris Hamilton’s snare sound, either; then again, that’s what snares sounded like in the Seventies and since that’s clearly the sound BLADE OF THE RIPPER are going for, it’s not that big of a deal.
If old school Metal is your bag and you dig other pseudo-Thrash bands like Canada’s GOAT HORN, then by all means, go pick up this album. However, if you’re looking for something with a slicker sound, awe-inspiring musicianship, or anything just plain heavier (BLADE OF THE RIPPER probably aren’t even as “heavy” as early METALLICA), then look elsewhere. (Online October 21, 2006)