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RIPPER (The Dead Have Rizen) LP/CD

Very often, the return of a so-called cult band is a double-edged sword. Mostly those bands do not manage to revive the old spirit so that they try to keep pace with the current musical trends. Usually, this strategy is doomed to failure. Formed in 1977, RIPPER is such a legendary cult act which only released one record in 1986 on Iron Works. They created a horror image and their costumes looked like a strange mixture of Death SS, KISS and Death Row. On their first album '...And The Dead Shall Rise' RIPPER played a combination of early Death SS and early Mercyful Fate, with which they gained a following among lovers of obscure metal. Altogether the first album is a solid piece of Texan underground horror metal. After that RIPPER disappeared. Almost 25 years have passed since then, and finally the band is back with a new album, released by Black Widow Records in 2009. By the way the Italian label had already re-released their debut in 2003. The band has been working for years on their second record which was originally titled 'Rizen'. Well, I mentioned earlier my skepticism on the reunion of extremely obscure bands, and unfortunately RIPPER's return is only partially successful.

For my taste, they endeavour too much in connecting with current trends. There are of course a couple of nice songs, but otherwise I don't get rid of the impression that RIPPER try to reach people who are into later Type O Negative and similar bands. For some the inserted keyboards are making the album more atmospheric, but for me in the long run it only becomes too pompous. Of course, the singing is very dramatic and assisted by various effects to evoke a goth-like mood. There is not much left of the old high-pitched vocal style of the first record. The things I like best about this album are the moments when the songs are closer to bands like Alice Cooper or KISS. However, the cover version of 'God of Thunder' is frighteningly weak. White Zombie have shown how to do it right in 1989 on the 'God of Thunder' 12". A further surprise is the opening riff in '66 Angel Eyez' that is borrowed from Diamond Head's 'Am I Evil'. Then the song goes on in later Type O Negative zones without reaching the relevant intensity. Apart from that, a couple of songs are strongly influenced by classic 80's heavy metal and sometimes remind me of the first RIPPER album. All in all, this is a mixed bag, and I am not sure that the dead really have rizen...