Well, this worked out a little different than I thought it might. Looking at the initial promo blurb, which talked about a German power trio taking an old school approach to heavy metal, I thought I’d be listening to something charming; perhaps even an album that was a little quaint. Well, JT Ripper do indeed hail from Germany, but they’re about a thousand miles away from the likes of Blind Guardian. No, this is a band that’s taken the blue print from old Teutonic thrash, built the resulting amplifier and then turned all of the dials all the way up to “elf”.
JT Ripper aren’t mucking about. From the album art, an unhinged painting of a number of infamous mass murderers emerging from some kind of skeleton thingy, through to the first track, “Cvlt” coming out of the speakers like Desaster with their skintight jeans on fire, this is a band that has a single track notion of what the listener can expect. In a word, “trouble”. In their attack, there is more than a hint of the old German masters like Desaster, Destruction and Sodom, though before any of those bands had developed anything like subtlety. Adding a tad more ferocity (and the capacity to – you know – actually play their instruments), a soupcon of proto-death metal in the foetid vein of Possessed, JT ripper are the sonic equivalent of having a stranger march up to you and grab you by the throat.
Songs just seem to burst into life in spasmodic spurts, and finish abruptly too. Vocally, Steffen has that classic first wave of European thrash rasp going on, while Chris plays that authentic, slightly off-kilter drum style that characterised the mid 80’s German thrash style. It’s perhaps in guitarist Daniel that we find most invention, with some interesting angular riffing among the first-two-albums of Sepultura chops within most songs. If you’re getting the impression that this album is a bit of an atavistic throwback to filthy old-school speed, you’re about bang on the money. Is this the most innovative album you’ll hear this year? Absolutely not, but the energy and enthusiasm, along with a couple of killer tunes (check out the rumbly bass grooves on “Shadows”, for instance) make up for that.
Production wise, this is fairly anachronistic, with the old dry, treble heavy sound that takes me straight back to the days of 2nd generation TDK 90 minute tapes and listening on a cheap tape deck. I’m pretty sure that JT Ripper won’t mind me saying that; it’s that effect I suspect they aimed for all along.
So, worth getting? That all depends on your tolerance for the most primitive days of our music. For me, it raised some smiles here and there, and I thought it was probably recorded by a band that wouldn’t really give too many cares about what I think in any case.
(6.5/10 Chris Davison)