Ripped To Shreds is the one-man death metal project of Andrew Lee, based out of the legendary Bay Area of California. Influenced heavily by SweDeath style metal, grindcore and thrash, “埋葬”(pronounced Mai-Zang, translated to Burial in English) is a hard hitting, uncompromising release which draws on Lee’s own cultural history and 20th century Chinese history; both good and bad moments. So gather round the graveside and prepare for the ceremonies.

The opening track “Craven Blood” hits hard from the start. The thrashy groove reminiscent of 80’s Exodus meets the filthy Entombed style dirt, creating a rather intimidating and ferocious wall of noise. The harshness of the distortion, coupled with the raw vocal roars and tight rhythm work show some serious rhythmic prowess. “Open Grave” which follows features guest vocals from BW (grave Spirit) and Dragkhar and their work adds more fierceness to the release. The harsh, guttural roars on the vocals, coupled with the switching from powerful and pounding slow grooves to pseudo-grind paced intense sections creates a maelstrom of death metal and the atmospheric effect it brings is one which heavily oppresses. The false-finish feedback wail which precedes the final minute of intense chaos works well and for a starting duo, these tracks hit home with no mercy.

The Chinese culture references begin to surface as the album progresses. “Jiangu (Bone Ritual)” is performed in Mandarin and it depicts the tradition of burial, exhumation, bone cleansing and then interning the bones in an urn for the family to keep. The theme of the track is that the bones of the deceased are not those of the family’s ancestors, so they are paying respect to another deceased person instead. The turbulent nature of the music and deep theme help create a good musical impact, and the sweet technical lead work caps it nicely. “Yellow River Incident 1938” adds more darkness to the release. Inspired and about the infamous deliberate flooding of the Yellow River by the Chinese forces in the second Sino-Japanese War (1938 into WW2), it comes across like a deluge of flood water, sweeping everything in its path aside with little mercy and submerging you in a murky, intense volume of riffs. The dynamic shifting from fast paced to slow and crushing works like a charm, and the ferocious vocals just add to it. Keeping with the darker historical themes, “Red Annihilation” references the ‘Shanghai Massacre’ of the late 1920’s-government forces rounded up communists and murdered them in an act of brutality. This darker look at culture and history keeps the crushing and intense atmosphere of the release up and once again, the dynamic riffing and technical leadwork really hits the mark.

Despite the great song structuring and musical delivery, “Mai-Zang” does seem to be a fairly repetitive release. The tracks do have a very familiar feel to them and the short length of the release (8 tracks) does lend to it being over fairly quickly. Yes, you can listen to it more, but in sustained bursts, it may fade into one overly familiar sounding death metal release. Still, the fast paced grindcore bursts, the filthy groove laden SweDeath styled sounds and the traditional thrashy-death spells do make for some heavy listening. Throw some more dirt in the grave, this is one to remember.

(7/10 Fraggle)