Ranger: Knights of Darkness

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Ranger: Knights of Darkness
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Ranger: Knights of Darkness
Speed Metal
Ektro Records
September 6th, 2013
Release length: 23:51
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Ranger hails from Helsinki, Finland, and has been around since 2009. Before sticking with this name, they initially went by Turbin for an undisclosed amount of time. In the years that followed, they issued three demo recordings before finally being picked up by Ektro Records for their first proper EP release, Knights of Darkness. Composed of re-recordings of “Touch of Death” and “Supreme Evil,” as well as three brand new songs, this recording hopes to throw the band into the eyes of revivalist fans, or just those all about the Speed Metal genre. But, is this effort enough to make anyone take note, or is it just more modern idol worship?

Things kick off with the self-titled track “Ranger,” showing off the rawer audio quality immediately. The bass is a bit lost in the mix, though works well enough to fill up the background during the guitar solos. The somewhat sharper guitar riffs kick into high gear about a minute in, establishing the pace of the track. The harsher vocals and dominating falsetto wails immediately put hair on your chest, especially when combined with the later gang chants that only add to the already aggressive nature of the band’s early eighties Speed Metal worship. The faster parts show a little more complexity than one might expect, but some of the slower passages do carry a nice subtle groove to them that only let you breathe for a moment.

“Touch of Death” finds the bass guitar having a stronger focus this time around in a NWOBHM manner, and the falsettos are a little more abundant, pushed to their limits against riffs that carry some hints of melody without becoming simplistic hooks, especially during the superb Heavy Metal style guitar solo that finds both guitars at work most of the time, giving them some extra bite. “Supreme Evil” just sounds like a song ripped straight off an undiscovered eighties demo recording. Consistent drumming and chaotic guitar work with commanding vocals hammer away at the listener with an early Thrash touch here and there as well, especially when the music suddenly stops to give way to a quick line of lyrics before chaos ensues once more modern revivalists could compare to “Nuke the Cross” by Toxic Holocaust. The energy on display drips with hostility and Metal worship, passing onto the listener before moving on to the Manowar-esque “Knights of Darkness.” It’s a little out of place, but the slower tempo performance still sicks out as much as the catchy material of “Steel Dawn.”

Knighhts of Darkness is a superb debut EP for Ranger, even if it does seem to get a bit lost in what style it wants to portray by the end. The group’s mixture of Speed and Thrash Metal harkens back to the early eighties, coming off more like some remastered demo tape of a band that never saw a record contract. Yes, much of what Ranger brings to the table is far from new, but the hostility and energy presented on this rougher recording are hard to ignore, making it an effort that will put hair on your chest after just the first spin. Fans longing for the days of Tormentor, and even early Venom or Slayer will find something to get excited about, and a brand new band to look forward to hearing more of.


01. Ranger – 5:39
02. Touch of Death – 3:32
03. Steel Dawn – 5:12
04. Supreme Evil – 3:03
05. Knights of Darkness – 6:25
Initial Pressing Score: 9/10

Ranger (band)
Ranger

Digital review copy of this release provided by Ektro Records.