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Ranger - Speed & Violence Award winner

Ranger
Speed & Violence
by Ofer Mashiach at 07 April 2017, 4:23 PM

Every now and then, there comes an album that its entire essence is to revive the glory and splendor of Heavy Metal of the jolly eighties. Although most of the bands that try to do just that are mere copycats that lack true essence, there are a few bands that live the true spirit and carry it forward to our days, which is exactly the case with RANGER.

RANGER is the type of band that anyone who has been raised in the lap of eighties Heavy Metal, can easily identify with. They hail from Finland (unsurprisingly) and, beyond being musicians that truly understand the essence of Heavy Metal, they do their thing in a natural, awe-inspiring way that truly graces the genre. Their explosive energy and somewhat raw sound provide an authentic old-school feel, and their latest release, "Speed & Violence", manages to capture the state of mind that shaped the genre. This is the type of album that will grip you tight and won't let go, while raising a smile on your face from the very start to its cathartic finish. Anyone who is not familiar with the band and doesn't know what they're all about would swear this album was recorded in 1985, and not in 2016.

This fast and furious album actually lives up to its title. Its lyrical content also complements the scene with descriptions of night creatures lurking in every corner or murderous invaders that storm the earth to terminate anyone they come across in a thousand weird deaths. Dimi's harsh vocal style rides the fast riffs, at times complemented by bloodcurdling shrieks that intensify the sense of impending doom. The transition between those vocal styles is a thing to behold and is accomplished with impressive virtuosity. As far as production is concerned, I must say the drumming is too dominant and the guitars are slightly pushed to the background, and although the album is not particularly heavy in terms of sound it is definitely heavy in terms of its inherent musical quality without any dull moment.

The album begins with a good tension buildup in the intro that erupts with the up-tempo sweeping title track. It is utterly clear right there in the beginning that RANGER proudly raise the standard of the spirit of true Heavy Metal. I'm quite sure that jogging to this album, you will break your personal best over and over. The Halford-esque shrieks in the chorus are highly gratifying. In this song, like most others on the album, the chorus is enhanced by a gang chant. "Without Warning" follows the same line of its former but it is more "airy" with a great sense of melody as well. It is sometimes hard to connect to a riff-based album that has very few hooks, if any, but RANGER excel in making it catchy, but not at all kitschy, already in the first listen. The performance of the band members perfectly demonstrates the difference between wannabes that try too hard and actual Metal musicians.

The guitar solos are very good throughout. They have that kind of freshness of a player discovering his talent for the first time and not afraid of experimenting or developing his own unique style; although they are not very innovative, they are performed well and have a distinct fingerprint. "Satanic Panic" starts with a strong riff, accompanied by the kick drum that slowly builds up until it explodes into the first verse in full throttle. The rhythm section is doing a great job in keeping the pace and the dynamic bass is audible, its pulsating lines dictating your heartbeats as you go. The band "goes back to its corner" for a melodic one-and-a-half minute instrumental to regain composure and negotiate how to land a haymaker on the listener, and they do just that when the fast pace resumes. Although most of the album goes in the same pace, it does not become boring or tiring at all. Generally speaking, the album is not too short to be unsatisfactory and not too long to become stale. "Shock Troops" somewhat reminds me of OVERKILL's, "Fatal if Swallowed", with its overall atmosphere and dynamics.

The final track, "Last Breath", has a certain dramatic quality to it and incorporates an NWOBHM-ish interlude followed by an exciting solo, and the drama is growing with a gradual buildup of a wall of sound at the end. That's where you realize your mouth is gaping and that you have to drink something cold to chill your heightened excitement.

This album is an ode to everything we love and appreciate in Heavy Metal and to what we have all gathered here for in the first place. If it wasn't clear to anyone on the previous album, "Where Evil Dwells", that RANGER is not "just another band" that tries too hard; there comes "Power & Violence" and gives a final and definite answer as well as shakes off all your doubts. If you are a RAZOR or EXCITER fan, this album is just perfect for you.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 10
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. Speed & Violence
3. Without Warning
4. Demon Wind
5. Lethal Force
6. Satanic Panic
7. Evil Barrier
8. Night Slasher
9. Shock Troops
10. Last Breath
Lineup:
Mikael Haavisto – Guitars
Dimi – Vocals, Bass
Ville Valtonen – Guitars
Miko – Drums
Record Label: Spinefarm Records
     


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