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Ranger - Where Evil Dwells

    Ian Jane

  • Ranger - Where Evil Dwells

    Ranger - Where Evil Dwells
    Released by: Spinefarm Records
    Released on: March 17th, 2015.
    Purchase From Amazon

    Ranger hail from Helsinki, Finland and are made up of Dimi Pontiac on bass and vocals, a guy named Miko on drums and Mikael and Ville on the twin guitar attack and if you were to look at that cover art and say 'hey, that looks like an album from 1987' you'd have a pretty good idea of what this old school styled thrash metal act are all about. There are a lot of retro style metal acts bringing that sound back these days, cashing in on the success of bigger names like Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust, but Ranger do it really, really well. From the primitively drawn cornball cover art to the Satanic lyrics to the bombastic explosion that opens the album to the analogue recording used to capture it their debut full length album Where Evil Dwells (their follow up to 2013's Knights Of Darkness) really does sound like the kind of East Bay thrash that exploded in the metal scene of the eighties. They've got the look down too. See?

    The complete track listing for Where Evil Dwells is:

    Defcon 1 / Deadly Feast / Phantom Soldier/ Dead Zone / Black Circle (S.Y.L.S.) / Where Evil Dwells / Storm Of Power

    And yeah, Defcon 1, it starts off with an explosion, literally - KABOOM! - and then the guitars come down and the drums kick in and Pontiac's bizarre, shrieking vocals warn us of our impending doom - we're all going to end up in a nuclear grave! If you can picture early Megadeth thrown into a blender with some Mercyful Fate thrown in for some bonus theatricality, you'd be pretty close to understanding the sound the band captures on this track. Toss in some Iron Maiden style galloping too, because that works its way into the track.

    Deadly Feast is a bit more bombastic and assaulting then the opener. It's got a grinding rhythm to it over which Pontiac continues to yelp and wail and sound like a madman, anchored by gang vocals during the chorus that are kind of a weird throwback to a hardcore punk influence - but that's really the only spot you'll hear that, as this is pretty much 'pure' thrash. This is fast and dirty and nasty and fucking wonderful. Probably my favorite track on the album. Moving right along, Phantom Soldier sees Pontiac channeling Mustaine again, but it works. There's definitely an early Megadeth sound going on here again, but that's okay. When he hits that falsetto scream though, you can hear some Slayer influence coming in with bang. Dead Zone starts off with a great barrage of heavy pounding drums before seconds later the twin guitar attack opens fire on your ears. Cue another epic scream and we're off at full speed as Pontiac wails about war, war and more war. Lots of war on this album, actually, it's a recurring theme. He also sings about metal and steel, other important ingredients in the stew that is Ranger's sound. This track has a vintage Overkill flavor to it - which makes sense as at one point, before a solo, Pontiac yells out 'Overkill!' Subtlety would not appear to be one of this band's strongpoints.

    From there we move on to what has to be the most sinister track on the album, Black Circle (S.Y.L.S.). What does S.Y.L.S. stand for? Say You Love Satan, of course! Ricky Kasso would approve because this song is clearly influenced by his story - right down to the crow's 'caw!' It's a creepy story turned into a creepy song but it fights in with the rest of the material on this album perfectly, right down to the trippy left to right/right to left pans in which distorted voices recreate the trippy experience and command you to 'say you love Satan!' The drumming towards the end of this track is just insane.

    The penultimate track is Where Evil Dwells, obviously the title track as well, clocks in at over ten minutes making it by far the longest track on the recording. It starts off with some sloppy, doomy style guitar work but after a minute and a half of that it's back to speed metal territory as Mikael and Ville do their thing and Pontiac starts to wail. The breakdowns here summon Maiden again, but there's enough of an undiluted thrash influence to keep it firmly entrenched in that subgenre, even when Pontiac's vocals collaborate with a strange demonic voice while the drums pan across the soundstage. It's pretty evil stuff, which I guess makes perfect sense given that it's about… evil.

    Last but not least, we go from the longest track on the album to the shortest, the closing number called Storm Of Power. It's the fastest, most aggressive track on the album and it's just pure, uncut, undiluted thrash played with an emphasis on speed. Consider it an attack of sorts, as it just goes for the throat and doesn't let up. It's a great way to finish a remarkably solid collection of kick ass thrash. These guys aren't pretending to be the most original act out there, they wear their influences on their sleeves and they do it with an immense amount of pride, but if you've got even the slightest amount of affection for quick and dirty thrash, you've simply got to check this band out. They might be recycling a vintage sound but they do it with such immense passion and with such sincerity that you can't help but love it. This album will kick you in the face and leave you asking for more.

    Check out Ranger's bandcamp page here.

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