7 Sep 2016

Ranger: "Knights of Darkness"

Bust open your trashiest beer and put on this thrashing masterpiece
The artwork says it all: Black background, painted chrome-style logo, four black figures in front of a night time cityscape, and a small sticker with the words "skull splitting metal" around a fanged skull. Knights of Darkness is one of those records you love to bust out and show your friends for a night of binge drinking, air guitaring and shouting to the sound of shredding riffs and high-pitched screams, straight from Finland in a classic 80s speed metal style with no shenanigans.

Ranger started out as Turbin and have since the name change released 3 demos before releasing this, the Knights of Darkness EP through Ektro/Full Contact Records in 2013. Following in the wake of what some might call the "new wave of traditional heavy metal", their style is dark and gritty, energetic and fast. The wild feel of Ranger's music brings to mind their fellow Finns in Speedtrap, although in a substantially less polished manner. And contrary to many of their contemporary speed metal brethren, Ranger goes against the grain with rough but catchy songwriting. The few tracks on this EP are far removed from the quote-unquote epic and clean sounds of many well-known speed metal bands of today.

"...the Finnish band is an entity that does not want to conform or slow down."

Let there be no doubt that Ranger takes more cues from classic, raw thrash acts than the more melodic wave of US power metal. The heaviest outputs of early Slayer, Whiplash, Exciter and Razor spring to mind moreso than Annihilator or Jag Panzer. Infused with hellish guitar solos and unhinged near-constant thrash beats, the Finnish band is an entity that does not want to conform or slow down. Vocalist Dimi varies from coarse barks and falsetto-like screams at a whim, changing pace and aggression-level at all the right moments.

Followers of acts like Enforcer or White Wizzard may be dismayed by the crude production on Knights of Darkness, but with the fury and speed that Ranger put forth it seems hard to imagine their songwriting working in any other musical environment. Clean production leaves nothing to the imagination, meaning that unless everything is spot on things will take a turn for the worse really fast. By taking a thrashier and more old school approach, Ranger have circumvented this issue. This is not about immersion, sophistication or finesse, for there is none to be had here. It isn't about some misbegotten notion that metal should be played or written with great refinement or elegance in mind. It's all about energy, ferocity, and just running wild for 20 minutes to the sound of tasteful use of fast down-strokes, scissor beats and screaming vocals.


Released in 2013 by Ektro & Full Contact Records


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