R.I.P. Premiere “Unmarked Grave”; New Album Street Reaper Due Oct. 13

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R.I.P. will release their second album, Street Reaper, Oct. 13 through RidingEasy Records. I’m still not entirely sure what the Portland, Oregon, four-piece’s self-imposed designation ‘street doom’ is fully intended to convey, but as with their 2016 debut, In the Wind (review here) — first issued by Totem Cat and subsequently picked up by RidingEasy — it would seem on the 10-track Street Reaper to have to do with the overarching level of grit the band brings to their material, evident likewise in tone and theme. Also it makes it okay that songs like “The Casket” and “The Dark” owe almost as much to Dead Kennedys as to Saint Vitus or Pentagram. Whatever you or they want to call it, it’s way over the top and, even though at least half the cuts directly reference death, is a blast of filthy, classic-style raw metallic pummel.

Make no mistake: by “blast,” yes, I mean party. Because whatever else might be going on in the street on which R.I.P. are proliferating their guttural doom, they’re also having a really good time doing it. That impulse may be the facet of their approach most tying them to the Portland underground that gave them birth, where otherwise they would seem bent on bringing a hint of darkness to the heavy rock sphere of Southern California — certainly the cover art of Street Reaper bears out that spirit. It’s a distinct notion and not something every band would be so brash as to attempt, but brashness seems to be a specialty for the foursome of vocalist Fuzz, guitarist Angel Martinez, bassist John Mullett and drummer Willie D., and from the opening “Unmarked Grave” onward, Street Reaper manifests that as much in its beat-you-over-the-head hooks as its noise-coated distortion. Riffs lead the way as they invariably would, but Fuzz answers the presence he brought to In the Wind with willful excess in “Street Reaper,” the slow-creep-int0-full-thrust “Shadows Folds” and the deeper echoes of “The Other Side,” stepping into a cassette-era theatricality that suits the rawer production almost surprisingly well, R.I.P. finding a place for ’80s and early ’90s nostalgia that’s not overblown would-be glam or retro-minded thrash, but would nonetheless fit well on a bill next to Slayer during their big-hair days, despite the obvious sonic discrepancies.

Likewise, “Mother Road” — the longest track on Street Reaper at 5:56 — seems to take the rip street reapercentral riff of Mötley Crüe‘s “Looks that Kill” and cake it in Motörheady dust such as to make it that much harder to place in one era or another, and closer “Die in Vain” taps First Daze Here-style Pentagrammery and brings in organ foreshadowed on “The Other Side” before it as a primary aspect, adding distinction and positioning its open verses and building choruses as all the more the band’s own. A well-placed guitar-led interlude “The Cross” follows the ultra-nasty “Brimstone” as R.I.P. move deeper into side B, and winds up emphasizing the point of just how atmospheric Street Reaper has been all along. I wouldn’t call much of what R.I.P. do subtle, but in terms of ambience, their songs successfully convey notions of mood and purpose without giving losing an apparent focus on simplicity of structure. Indeed, that simplicity is a part of their aesthetic, and well wielded through the thickened push of “The Casket” or “The Other Side” as well as “The Casket,” on which one half expects Fuzz to remind his audience in the opening lines that, “Saint Vitus was a young man…” in his best Scott Reagers. He doesn’t though, and as much as one might trace the band’s roots to one act or another when it comes to the elements at play at a given moment, what’s undeniable about Street Reaper as a whole is that R.I.P. are engaging the work of building their own identity in these tracks, and just because they’ve named it — the already-noted “street doom” branding — doesn’t mean they can’t and aren’t using it as a basis for creative progression.

And that progression — unless I’ve read the album completely wrong — costs R.I.P. nothing in terms of their party-ready spirit, which sees development here as well as a part of their overarching personality. They hit the road to support In the Wind along the West Coast and I’d expect no less when it comes to Street Reaper, and these songs would seem to be tailored to a stage presentation, ready to be captured in some grainy-style video to further demonstrate their allegiance to the smoke-weed-and-chew-boulders heavy metal and doom of yore. Worth keeping an eye out, because like death on a skateboard, R.I.P. are as inevitable as they are inebriated.

Below, you’ll find the premiere of “Unmarked Grave,” followed by some comment from Fuzz about the track and more info from the PR wire. Once again, Street Reaper is out Oct. 13 via RidingEasy Records.

Please enjoy:

R.I.P., “Unmarked Grave” official premiere

Fuzz on “Unmarked Grave”:

“The seed of the song ‘Unmarked Grave’ was planted in my brain when we were on a tour stop in New Orleans and went through one of the city’s few in-ground burial cemeteries. The high water table in the swamp there makes it difficult to keep corpses interred, and the grounds were strewn with bone fragments and rotten human debris that had floated up through the dirt and the mud. What was once a man with hopes and dreams was now nothing but refuse broken to pieces and strewn about with some litter and trash. The disquietude these bodies were subject to stuck with me, and were on my mind when we wrote that track. I hope some of the despondency and humiliation of that situation come through to the listener, and that your grave offers you a more peaceful sojourn than it did to the souls that brought this song into being.”

When R.I.P. came crawling out of the sewers of Portland, OR last year, their grimy, sleazy Street Doom was already a fully formed monstrosity that quickly infected the minds of everyone it encountered. Now, borne from the band’s declining state of mental health and increasing focus on songwriting, Street Reaper is an even more unhinged and menacing album than their 2016 debut In The Wind.

Borrowing equally from 80s Rick Rubin productions and Murder Dog magazine aesthetics, Street Reaper is a streamlined yet brutally raw manifesto of heavy metal ferocity hearkening to the era when both metal and hip hop were reviled as the work of street thugs intent on destroying America’s youth. Throughout, Angel Martinez’s guitar and John Mullett’s bass are inextricably interlocked, sounding like a massive sonic steamroller, while drummer Willie D keeps the beat solid and simple for the most powerful impact. And, the band’s extensive touring and excessive virgin sacrifices have clearly endued singer Fuzz with evermore agile vocal chords to drive it all home with extreme precision.

Street Reaper will be available on LP, CD and download on October 13th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records.

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