Ranger – Where Evil Dwells

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Coming from the melodic end of thrash, and with eight high-topped feet planted in speed metal, Helsinki’s Ranger impress with their (rising) force, and don’t mistake the proliferation of melody for any indication that there is to be any let up in intensity or intent. With nods to pre-pirate Running Wild, and ploughing a similar furrow to Enforcer, albeit with a less rocky overtone and more of a heads-down-see-you-at-the-end vibe, Where Evil Dwells (Spinefarm) may be the band’s debut full-length, but this is an album forged in furnaces that have been burning for 35 years.

Using Dark Angel’s Darkness Descends (Combat) as a template (7 songs, sub 40 minutes, track 6 being a lengthy 8 minute plus thrashepic, track one being a lesson in extended thrash and the second longest track) is not the worst prototype any band could use, and musically the band pull from the melting pot some nice Di’anno era Maiden twin leads, especially in ‘Defcon1’, amongst the thrashing Sodom-y. Elsewhere there are enough variance of thrash and speed metal and melodic refrains to maintain the interest; ‘Phantom Soldier’ along with a nice Eastern-tinged solo and good movement between solid chugging, and riffing and all out thrashing, borrows very heavily from Kill ‘em All (Megaforce) and in particular ‘Seek & Destroy’ (as well as lifting more than a lyric from ‘Disposable Heroes’), while closer ‘Storm of Power’ is a relentless 3 minute thrash battery to bring things home. Dimi Pontiac provides yelps and squawks as if possessed at random intervals by John Connolly – a “thing” that bands do that personally grates a touch, but are a staple trope of the speed metal oeuvre – but otherwise delivers with confidence, reminiscent of So Far, So Good… So What (Capitol) era Dave Mustaine, sneer and all.

All in, though, a very solid first outing for Ranger that will do more than satisfy those whose tastes are this way inclined. It is nothing new, but here’s where I have to leave my retro-hang ups at the door and buckle my bullet belt on instead, cos it doesn’t just do what it says on the tin. Ranger, with their melodic breaks and mid-tempo deviations, do go some way to standing out and honing their own identity.

And who can argue with a hand-drawn logo and an album cover with big fucking skulls on it!

7.5/10

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STEVE TOVEY

RANGER: UK release show for Spinefarm debut album

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Finnish speed-metal monkeys Ranger have confirmed details of their debut full-length Where Evil Dwells, out on March 16th via Spinefarm and of an upcoming album release show at the Boston Music Room, London on the 19th.

With two acclaimed retro-EP’s raising their profile, Ranger have made the step up to Spinefarm and will release an album of “Skull Splitting Metal”, recorded in glorious analogue and featuring the pure metal Marshall madness sound we all know and love.

Old school thrashing shall ensue, and for a taster, the band have released a lyric video for lead-off track ‘Def Con 1’

For “torrid riffs, twin-guitar assault, intense rapid-fire drumming, pummelling bass attack and banshee-like vocal delivery (that) thrashes you into oblivion” then Where Evil Dwells might just be for you…

Tracklisting:

1. Defcon 1

2. Deadly Feast

3. Phantom Soldier

4. Dead Zone

5. Black Circle (S.Y.L.S.)

6. Where Evil Dwells

7. Storm Of Power