Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Risk - Ratman EP (1989)

Risk might just be the only band in all of metal's history to concoct a nearly 11 minute long opus about the rat species, and truly this is one of the most uncanny things I've ever heard. However, taking into consideration that thrash bands of the late 80s were releasing EPs with their cover of the Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters theme (Xentrix), tributes to alcoholic extra terrestrials (Tankard), covers of Mussorgski (Mekong Delta), or pretending to be punk bands (Sodom), it's probably not as out of place as one might think. What's even more impressive is that, for the most part, this release is actually good, a positive successor to the band's excellent debut The Daily Horror News. We're a long way from Faithful Breath now...

The centerpiece here is the 10:40 minute "Ratman", which opens with the sounds of manhole covers being removed, titillating, cutesy synthesizers and pitch shifted narrative about a man's descent into the sewers. The song is actually fragmented into a number of segments called "Invitation" (the intro I just mentioned), "Ratman's Delight" (a catchy, twisting melodic thrash passage), "Ratdance" (which is loaded with amazing, clinical riffing and tight leads), and lastly "Delirium", which sounds like a strange parody of the old Batman theme transformed into a pummeling thrash. This last piece is the least interesting, but up until that point the song is just stunningly good, and would have been worthy of appearing on a full-length.

It's not alone. There are three other tracks here, beginning with "Germans", a sort of patriotic while simultaneously non-patriotic gang thrasher which clocks in at nearly 90 seconds. It's goofy and disposable, but so bad it will definitely make you smile. There's nothing at all stupid about "Violent Science" though, which had also appeared as a CD bonus on The Daily Horror News. A great, mid-paced thrasher with nice, psychotic vocals. "Skid-Row Kid" is a surprisingly moody thrasher which opens with a downcast slew of chords and then rips into memorable precision, speed/thrash metal much like the content of the debut album. A lot better than the title might imply, but then, so isn't this entire release...

You might not think something like Ratman would be possible, much less actually worth hearing, but I assure you it is that. Most of the title track is entertaining, as are the rest, and it makes a fine bridge into the band's sophomore Hell's Animals.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10] (I'm the big star of the drain)

No comments: