From the bowels of Malmö, Sweden, comes the fourth full-length album of death-grinders RazorRape, entitled Stripped to Kill. Released back in March of 2018, via Rotten Roll Rex, I had exclaimed interest in picking this album up in my journey of collecting all that the label has to offer, but slacked off on it for a multitude of reasons. Unlike other releases and bands, I had no excitement, hype, or expectations going forward with this album, considerably bizarre since I had listened to two previous full-lengths and an EP beforehand. How does the music hold up? I can certainly say, it’s intriguing.
To begin with, I find it interesting that the CD’s tray insert claim it to be ‘Bulldozer Goregrind’, despite the band’s clear cut, death-grind vibe. Now for reference, bands like Guineapig, UxLxFxCxMx, and The Creatures from the Tomb play bulldozer goregrind, whereas RazorRape sounds more heavily influenced by Swedish old school-death metal, or bands like Exhumed. Now the album definitely has aspects that resemble the bulldozer sound, but I’ll comment more on that aspect later. Buyer beware, this album is definitely not goregrind, not that that’s a drawback or anything, just clearing up any misconceptions before going forward.
This album is undoubtedly one of the harsher, and heavier albums I have heard from 2018. The bulldozer aspect unquestionably comes into play with Mauritzon on guitars, the notes bombarding your eardrums like a cavalcade of chainsaws, knives, and other instruments used for rough serration. If the production were a bit louder, the guitars would rival the act of Blood Red Throne but for such an underground band, it works exceptionally well, not just for the sound of the album, the serial killer like tone and gruesome themes as well. Themes in the most liberal meaning possible as this album lacks coherent lyrics or any indication of lyrics aside from the song titles provided. A tiny nit-pick I’m aware, but if the artist when the extra mile to include gory, disturbed lyrics, it would make the songs much more memorable. Though with this calamitous construction of carnivorous guitar shredding shrapnel and sound, the other instruments have quite the chance to be drowned out. And while the other instruments sound as loud and proud as the guitars, the bass could be a tad bit louder, though it’s a great feat that it’s not completely forlorn, as it hums along with guitar quite nicely. The bass’ performance is supplied by, once again, Mauritzon, and while I do admit in its superb ability to stand out in the bulldozer sound, at times it gets a bit drowned out. As for Schönherr on vocals and drums, my feelings are a smidge less than impressed. The drumming is crisp and holds a violent bludgeoning to it, but doesn’t go above and beyond in terms of nuance, or technicality, opting for simplicity. The vocals are the oh-so-common pig squeals that do nothing but repeat themselves over and over again, but at least Schönherr delivers a basic variety of styles, such as more plain death metal vocals or snorts.
As for the music, it does little to inspire an album that isn’t just something to pass the time to. I’m sure it’d be a hoot and a holler to mosh to these songs live, but at home, the music is death-grind, plain and simple, nothing too unique. However, there are certain songs that catch me off guard with a sudden change in range and sound, like ‘Embalmed in Entrails’ which in the latter half features a semi-psychedelic, rock and roll guitar solo, and when I first heard it, I’ll admit it knocked my socks off. Or ‘Slammed and Bodybagged’ which, once again, features another surprise rock and roll solo, that’s more rock and roll than the last. When the album chooses to be nuanced, it absolutely works and pays off big time for the listener. With that being said however, most of the riffs sound much too similar to one another, and while you’ll find a riff that’s pretty distinctive or fun, odds are you’ll hear something incredibly similar. And once again, I’ll give credit where it’s due, this album only features three samples, thank the lord. Samples tend to be a dime a dozen in albums like these, and it’s refreshing to see them kept to an absolute minimum. This album is certainly more death than grind, with attempts at a more slow, bulldozing goregrind feel, coming off as slammy, akin to brutal death metal. This album is way too fast and complex for goregrind, yet not complex enough to stand out exceedingly well.
Though I may have been a bit pessimistic in this writing, overall, I enjoyed the album for what it is. It’s obvious that ‘Stripped to Kill’ had a lot of passion poured into it, and for what it provides the listener, that’s already a step above most other bands. In fact, I found some enjoyment out of a majority of the songs, and at worst, the ones I didn’t care for were simply forgettable. This album is a definite example of good death-grind, and an honorable mention of the better albums of 2018.
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