Sunday, May 1, 2022

Rip Ryde - A Taste for the Kill (2022)

Just one glance at the cover to A Taste for the Kill and I'm taken back to the 80s when I'd be cruising the mall for metal records, and in addition to the thrash and harder stuff there would be this crop of bands which sat in the median between the trendier, terrible glam rock and the heavy metal proper. My love for bands like Dokken, BonfireKing Kobra, etc came from within this margin, and it's clear that Cleveland's Rip Ryde had a similar fascination because they have managed to recapture this same feeling on their indie debut. I'm not too surprised, because the lineup here is pretty ridiculous, almost a who's who of Ohio goodness, featuring members of Soulless, Shed the Skin, Vanik, Vindicator, Ringworm, and Shok Paris. And while the album takes a track or two to really take off, it's packed with accessible, catchy metal that's prepped to party on the surface, but also has enough of a genuine emotion and intelligence behind it to matter more than that.

I'll say that the opener, "Stop, Rip and Roll", with its very Dokken-like riff, didn't exactly hook me as I felt like it was the vocalist's weakest performance on the album. He's got a good, everyman voice with a capability for a little pitch, almost an amalgam of a blue-collar Midwest bar front man and a NWOBHM hero ala Biff Byford, but I just didn't pick him out too much as he was following along the guitars in the verses. Still, the little splashes of fun, bluesy hard rock leads, and the production tone on the rest of the instruments is pretty promising, and though the song was a little repetitive, it's a good teaser for their style, which improves very quickly on cuts like the similar, flailing "My Oh My" or "Legends for the End", and these are catchier with the vocals and guitar melodies. The chord patterns are pretty simple, and hardly novel, but infused with just enough legit 80s melody circa Scorpions or Maiden that they really hammer home, and this band is very adept at setting up solid rhythm guitar hooks to support the awesome leads, which don't exactly 'duel' but have a nice, memorable interchange that takes you back.

It gets to the point where even the band's most overt attempts at a more 'party' theme like "Sweet Rocket Girl" still don't come off excessively cheesy, even when the singer is giving it a bit too much rock & roll gusto, and even that song has a very "Delivering the Goods" vibe. When the band dials it down for a ballad like "Into the Darkness Again", it's earned and not at all cheap, a solid construction and really good lead-work/bridge in there transformed it into one of my favorites on the album, and the rapid melodies of "Dance for the Massacre" really sealed the deal. A Taste for the Kill is fun but never shallow, nearly every riff here is imbued with a love for its influences, and from a cast of characters who have cast a pretty broad net in the past, from other heavy metal projects to raucous speed/thrash to blistering melodic death metal. Maybe the malls suck these days, but your life doesn't have to, so whether you dig the old 70s Priest, Saxon and Maiden, the more accessible side of the Metal Blade roster in the 80s, or the new weave of Canadian metalians and hard rockers (Cauldron, Freeway, Spell, etc), this is worth at least a listen, and the blood and cleavage are the cherries on top.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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