In a flooded Portland bandscape, R.I.P. stand out from the crowd pretty easily. The four-piece release their debut album, In the Wind, on March 14 via Totem Cat Records with cover art by Adam Burke, and unlike much of what’s coming out of the Pacific Northwest, R.I.P. are way more interested in having their party breaking bottles on gravestones at night rather than downing pints in the brewpub.
In the Wind offers up a 10-track/54-minute 2LP’s worth of of classic metal churn delivered with modern heavy buzz in the guitars of Angel Martinez, whose riffs lead the fist-pumping charge alongside vocalist Fuzz, bassist Jon Mullett and drummer Willie D, hell-bent on sourcing purposefully-regressive doom from the metal of yore, whether that’s the Saint Vitus-style riffing of “Bereaved” and “Brave in the Grave,” Fuzz nodding at Eric Wagner in “Smoke and Lightning” and closer “In the Wind Part 3” or the scorching leads Martinez brings to cuts like “Tremble” and “In the Wind Part 2.”
Worth acknowledging that for heavy rockers to be mining the tropes of ’80s metal is nothing new. Early Man released their first demo circa 2004 — and they weren’t the first — and while not nearly as indebted to thrash, R.I.P. share some stylistic tendencies on In the Wind, which outwardly proselytizes the righteousness of its aesthetic in the lyrics to “Black Leather” and “Smoke and Lightning,” a self-awareness that, while clearly enjoying itself, avoids an ironic sneer.
With sonic methods drawn from Pentagram, Sabbath, Vitus, Trouble, and so on, R.I.P. are playing to the familiar, but they’re not doing so in a mocking manner so much as in celebration, ready to surprise the crap out of some mostly-empty bar that didn’t know it was about to have its ass kicked like it’s 32 years ago. The element of surprise isn’t necessarily a factor by the time intro “The Scythe” and “In the Wind Part 1” give way to “Brave in the Grave” and “In the Wind Part 3,” but by then the doom has hit the bloodstream and In the Wind‘s headbanger’s ball has either drawn you in or cast you out.
It’s the kind of metal that shows up in grainy big-but-not-glam-hair photos and the kind of metal that you could probably get away with playing in Manowar‘s proverbial hall after a few adult beverages. Across its span, In the Wind isn’t exactly raw and it isn’t exactly retro, but it’s definitely taking the bulk of its influence from a bygone age of demo-tape trading and wearing band t-shirts as a social statement.
Blending those elements with a decidedly heavy rock shuffle in the second half of “Tremble” and slide guitar in the interlude “The Tombstone” (which may or may not be an intro for the second LP) adds complexity to the experience overall, but by no means are R.I.P. aiming for pick-it-apart nuance. They call it “West Coast street doom,” and that’s about as fair as anything I could come up with. Whatever niche genre one might one to invent for R.I.P., like their moniker, their first full-length gets right to the point and leaves little question as to its deathly intent.
Below, you can hear the premiere of “Tremble” ahead of the album’s release on March 14. Please enjoy:
After several years of hammering the west coast with the blunt scythe of street-doom, R.I.P. finally committed to tape an introductory will and testament for the rest of the world to tremble to. “In the Wind” closes the casket on the trends and exhumes the notion that doom isn’t about how slow and de-tuned you can play, but about fear, death, leather and playing as heavy as possible.
A full US tour in the spring follows this Totem Cat Records release, where the band plans to drag the rest of the country down with them. Doom is dead: R.I.P. doom.
ARTWORK: Adam BurkeIn the Wind, Oregon, Portland, R.I.P., R.I.P. In the Wind, Totem Cat Records