Ravager - The Third Attack - (8/10)
Published on January 31, 2022
Label:Iron Shield Records
One can always rely on Germany to provide rollicking good thrash metal, not just amongst its iconic veterans, but also within the new wave scene. Walsrode’s Ravager are typical of the high standards of this style, though I only discovered them not two years ago thanks to the moderately outlandish cover art for their solid 2019 sophomore album Thrashletics. That massive sneaker-wearin’, bullet-beltin’ reptilian motherfucker was sure to have suckered in more suckers than just me – but it was totally worth it. Where Thrashletics shined was in the sheer riff count, but it tended to wander a little in terms of memorability and structure. However, in 2021, Big Lizard Boi™ hit back with a third full-length – this time IN SPACE! – conveniently titled The Third Attack, and an attack it certainly is. Taking everything that makes new wave thrash fun, and everything decent about Thrashletics, and turning the quality dial one notch higher.
For those not accustomed to new wave thrash metal, this will almost certainly blend in with the Municipal Wastes and Fueled By Fires of our time; in that respect, The Third Attack is certainly aimed at fans of the sub-genre who have already come to terms that this will not be boundary-breaking. On offer here is good, solid, reliable, riff-happy retro thrash metal but with the added bonus of being more memorable and carefully thought-through than its predecessor. Instrumental opener “Intruders” does away with any tension or ambiance that “Descending Dawn” went for. Instead, we’re treated to 2 minutes of energetic riffs that switch tempo and feel at the drop of a hat (a technique Ravager have down to a tee). Once the first full song “Planet Hate” drops, the listener should be sufficiently fired up – ready for a moshin’ good time courtesy of the band’s best opening anthem to date. The addition of catchy hooks and more memorable shout-along sections finds this record erring on the correct side of accessible. Who doesn’t love raising a fist and yelling ‘This is a planet FULL OF HATE!”?
At this point, it would’ve become abundantly clear that the guys have cleaned up their production quality. Not that there were any major issues before, but the guitar tone on the previous records was a little muddy, and vocals would get a little lost in the mix. The same raw vibe is achieved here, and it’s definitely identifiable as Ravager, but riffs slice sharper, vocals cut through cleaner (particularly helpful with the many gang-shout segments), and even the extra layers feel well-mixed like the sound effects in the title-track. The Third Attack is structured nicely, with enough variety to keep attentions fixated on the thrashing at hand. Their characteristic brand of multi-faceted thrash shines on “My Own Worst Enemy” and “Back In The Real World” where sections – entirely different in feel – blend into one another really well. I’m especially fond of the super groovy riff that opens the former then returns halfway through. Also, the ‘live your dream’ section of the latter sounds weirdly familiar…
To oppose their typical schizophrenic songwriting, the short sharp blast of the title-track and “King Of Kings” will have the thrashiest of moshers bouncing off the walls with brief bursts of adrenaline. These contrast nicely with the crawling menace of “A Plague Is Born” (which is definitely not about the UNSPECIFIED VIRUS OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN) and the stomping “Priest Of Torment” (which I’m pretty sure is my favorite headbanger on the disc). Ravager even have the balls to take on a lengthy closing number in the form of “Destroyer” – this CD’s answer to 2019’s “Dead Future” – this time with genuine climactic moments and a fantastic chorus. The riff that slams down at the 6:14 mark is godly and they could’ve just faded out on that…. but they ensure the final lyric on the album is ‘Fuck you!’ – just as a satisfying icing of 80s-esque rebellion on the thrashcake. Even among one of the most heavily saturated sub-genres, Ravager have carved their own identity. They’re on a steady upward projection and I’m already kinda salivating for what else they may have in store. The Third Attack. Go on. Get it. Get attacked. By a massive fuck-off space-lizard and his UFO-lasso.