Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, but that there are a lot of bands that play in an identifiable style of satanic speed-thrash. This isn’t a bad thing, just an observation.
If we were going to break things down further into sub-sub-subcategories of heavy metal, obviously, you’ve got your road warrior variety like Speedwolf and Bewitcher, then the medieval clan of which Chevalier is counted amongst their ranks, and then you’ve got the boss-level demons like Midnight, who literally sound like they breathe hellfire and fart brimstone.
Despite feeling like a crowded field at times, there is still plenty of space for new children of damnation to forge and make camp. R.I.P. state their claim as the embodiment of the urban refuge in the decaying bowels of the abandoned inner-city, delivering a variety of ripping, rock ‘n terror with a caustic patina of ’80s high-concept horror.
Dead End, the third LP from Portland’s R.I.P., begins with “Streets of Death,” an appropriately eerie creep of breath-stealing synths and claustrophobic atmosphere that appears to conceal a killer around every corner. This style of soundtrack vignette is repeated on the closer “Dead of the Night” as well, both of which bookend and lend character to ten tracks depicting desperate living, phantasmagoric dread, and quick, meaningless and violent ends.
While bands like the aforementioned Bewitcher are a good reference point for what you’re getting on Dead End, there is also a bluesy undercurrent to these tales of woe that allow a dirt-souled acid rock and oily melodic punk to get footholds in the mix, even to the point of taking the reins and bringing the entire flame-out affair closer to the sonic equivalent of early Judas Priest challenging Zeke to motocross cup around an active volcano.
This comparison is especially applicable to rolling grooves and psyched-out guitars of the death-eating, grime climber “Death is Coming” and the minefield cruiser “Nightmare,” with its mud blasting rhythms and scything solos.
Some later tracks also embrace swampy sludge metal a la Down such as on the stomping, satyr blood sacrifice of “Moment of Silence,” and the gothic folk intro of “Buried Alive” which is painfully reminiscent of Down’s puritan bashing “Witchtripper.”
Through damnably ugly grooves and a retro-dystopian atmosphere, R.I.P. has given us a glimpse of the type of band that those subterranean cannibals from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York might have formed if they had refrained tearing stakes out of Season Hubley’s thighs long enough to learn some guitar tablature.
Dead End is a delightfully depraved throwback, well-suited to survive the precipitous social disillusionment of the modern era. It’s also fun as hell!
Photo by R.I.P.