“It’s early 2017, and time for more doom.” What is that a quote from, I metaphorically hear you ask? Well, it’s the opening line for my January review of R.I.P.’s first album of 2017, in fact their first album, ‘In The Wind.’ Now, without having to buy a new calendar, I get to review their second (dear editor, I know how much you dislike the word “sophomore” so I won’t use it. D’oh!) release, ‘Street Reaper’, a rarity with so few bands managing to be prolific enough to get out two LPs in a year complete with a touring schedule and the rest of life taking up so much time.
R.I.P. Still call themselves “street doom”, and in fact the review download automatically populated that as the genre on Itunes (other ways of playing your files are available), even though it doesn’t appear as an option on the drop down. So, what does that self-imposed definition mean? Well, having given both albums a good few blasts, it seems to mean a stripped down, almost punk tinged take on Doom. Gone are the long slow epic journeys of some acts, replaced instead by fast paced spiky examples of the genre, 10 whole tracks being crushed together into the 45 minute length of the album.
‘Unmarked Grave’ opens the album in a romping stomping style, and whilst the dark lyrical themes and howling vocals are straight from the formative days of Doom, the musical pace and raw power is far more akin to the garage sounds of The Stooges, riffs being delivered with a sneer and the rhythm section being simple, unpretentious, and all the more effective for it. Title track ‘Street Reaper’ follows on hard and heavy, and with the howls of feedback and dirty unpolished feel it sounds as if the band were every bit as much influenced by The Ramones as they were by Candlemass. A bit more early Sabbath slips into the sound with ‘Mother Road’ where R.I.P. sound as if they are slipping away into tomorrow, whilst ‘The Casket’ could practically be a recently unearthed hidden Pentagram track, dug out from under a pile of Bobby Liebling’s cast off old stage blouses. Not all is a sonic battery though, and the subtle plucked opening bars of ‘The Dark’ show a delicate side to the band that is in stark contrast to the pummelling of so much of the rest of the album, psychedelic themes creeping through the rest of the track, a sound they develop on later in the album with the instrumental ‘The Cross’, all before the riff gains ascendency again in ‘The Other Side.’
Recently I managed to tick off an entry on my musical bucket list, namely seeing the mighty Saint Vitus with Scott Reagers on vocals, the other half dozen or so times I’ve seen them before having Wino on mic duties, and R.I.P. have managed to capture that same gritty energy from the days when those godfathers of Doom used to play for an audience of spiky haired punks as they toured with Black Flag; for keeping alive that raw sound, they are only to be commended. I still have trouble keeping up with all the assorted genres and sub-genres of music, with all the divisions and arguments it can cause, so like last time out, rather than try and make “street doom” a thing by propagating the title I’ve decided to put ‘Street Reaper’ right next to the prior release ‘In The Wind’ and directly into the category of “music I like”, and I hope you, the reader, will agree.