Thursday, 23 April 2015

Ranger – Where Evil Dwells (2015) / 83%

Gotta go fast for Satan

After two pretty good extended plays (2013 and 2014), Ranger from Helsinki are back with their debut full length and they're ready to tear you a new asshole with it. The Fnns, like Carl Hagelin who plays with the New York Rangers, are hellishly fast. They're even trying to make you summon Satan, check out “Black Circle” with its occult “Say you love Satan” line repeated numerous time at the end mimicking the infernal opener of Hell Awaits (happy thirtieth birthday, by the way!) This song is about the famous Acid King affair, a pretty metal subject, to be fair!

Speed metal can be a hard genre to define, sometimes it's wrongly used or simply added to another style to be more precise. For me, speed metal is the clever mix of heavy, thrash and power metal into a super fast (that's a given) lunchable. It's also often more melodic than your usual thrash metal. Ranger are one of those bands, they play bombastic speed metal with dual lead guitar solos and an overall badass attitude.

The album is the perfect length for its style, a bit less than forty minutes and it works so well for the ripping approach they favor. Nourished by the Canadian two headed school of speed, Razor and Exciter but also by Americans Agent Steel or even Megadeth. There's legitimate Mustaine influences in the super high and screeching vocals and some of the more politically inclined lyrics (see the opener “Defcon 1” without any of the nutcase propaganda of ol' Dave. Dimi's vicious vocals fits their well written and over the top lyrics. 

It sure is fast but the dudes know how to write interesting long numbers, the title track is even an ambitious ten minutes track (not totally unlike some of Blood Tsunami's stuff). It succeeds at keeping things relatively fast and interesting with its military beat and its excellent leads all over the place but it's hard for anyone to pull off a truly compelling track like that, it does sound like a bunch of songs mashed together. Still, that's a minor concern and the overall pacing of the album is quite okay. A bit weird that the single “Storm of Power” is finishing the album though but it ends on a high note as it's ripper. 

Even if they're fast as fuck, they take their time to blast your head with a wide array of riffs and they remember to unleash some mid-paced goodies from time to time. Their musicianship is strong and despite the two guitarists being recent acquisitions to the team, a certain chemistry is present. The drums are thundering and doesn't rely on blastbeats to be in your face, there's some cool bass licks and the instrument is more present than in your usual speed/thrash/power metal band. The guitars are quite incisive and the overall production suits their needs like a ten ton bulldozer. 

They took their time with their debut full length and it shows, I think they achieved the sound they wanted and while it's not original, that's irrelevant due to its awesomeness. It's retro metal, it's well done and they preach and worship the right entities. It's never boring and it's fun, evil metal that doesn't take itself too seriously and that's always a plus for a genre like theirs. Sure, Where Evil Dwells doesn't reach the level of quality of their classic influences but

It's pure energy with blistering solos. Alongside Speedtrap, they're the best speed metal representatives of Finland. Gotta go fast!

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