Musically, “劇變 (Jubian)” uncovers the sonic revolution while still keeping the thematic Chinese mythology and struggles of American-born Chinese. The songwriting explains the robust blend which is much related to bands like Dismember and Entombed. As a result of the galvanizing HM-2 guitar riffs exploding from the amplifiers, Ripped To Shreds fires on all cylinders straight from the opening track “Violent Compulsion for Conquest” which begins with a fat bass guitar line steering the riffing in a volatile organic tempo. Given the high stakes of the song arrangement, the music gears into aural violence with Brian Do (Spinebreaker) sitting behind the drum kit and Ryan unleashing his bass guitar, providing a steady vibe to the galloping drums. On top of that, you can expect pure mayhem in the guitar department with guitarist/vocalist Andrew Lee and guitarist Michael Chavez will have you hooked with monstrous brutal riffing.
What’s impressive about the album is that the quartet descends into hellfire death metal assault. There is no room for melodies at least in the opening tracks. Ripped To Shreds imposes enough ferocity to break your bones, each riff triggers the maddening frenzy growls with thundering percussion bursting into furious blast beats. The guitar tone is enormous, at times the riffing churns the tempo fueling it with venomous vicious growls, “Split Apart by Five Chariots” puts the pedal to the metal.
The latest effort shows a great paradigm shift in terms of music but it also exhibits a new approach to death metal and grindcore, “劇變 (Jubian)” raises the stakes high showcasing aggressive and ultra-brutal standards for the band. At its best, Ripped To Shreds can easily be compared to the likes of Napalm Death’s “Scum” and “Enslavement of Obliteration” and Carcass’ “Reek of Putrefaction”, Andrew Lee has pushed the boundaries beyond the traditional scope of death metal.
Things get even nastier with the ten-minute monolithic track “獨孤九劍 日月神教第三節 (In Solitude – Sun Moon Holy Cult Pt 3)” which is less chaotic than the previous songs. A track where the focus seems to create a riffing intensity and the tempo becomes more aggressively engaging with dark sinister riffs and some hooky melodic guitars. “劇變 (Jubian)” is a merciless portrayal of savagery as it manages to inject classic grindcore elements into a frenzy and dynamic quality, the drums reach their powerful climax through swells of blast beats that sound like a machine gun. However, the guitar department keeps the tension at its peak igniting some killer melodic tremolos. Ripped To Shreds clearly display these sonic maneuvers from grindcore to old-school death metal.
“Harmonious Impiety” is another highlight track on the album that blasts into an unstoppable force, and the guitars work in the context of the explosive eruptions. There is some fine virtuoso from the guitars and drums on “漢奸 (Race Traitor)” which opens with a melodic theme reminiscent to Dismember, one of the main remarks of the album is how the songs sound cohesively engaging. The musical aptitude is spot on and the result is a combustible mixture of death metal and creativity.
“Reek of Burning Freedom” is instantly filled with chainsaw guitars that have a massive sound and blast beats on this track are sporadically all over the place. The robust level of the drums adds a rabid fury to the thrashing riff work, the guitar solos are flawlessly executed. While every song is memorable, Ripped To Shreds pushes levels towards something more extreme and comprehensive in scope. It’s noteworthy to say that “劇變 (Jubian)” reflects its melodicism from Swedish melodic death metal bands like Hypocrisy. The mid-tempo bluster “Peregrination to the Unborn Eternal Mother” is driven by catchy rhythm guitars, while midway through the song there is a great melodic transition that is backed by solid bass guitar and the drumming work forming as a backbone.
With all guns blazing in the album’s closure “Scripture Containing the Supreme Internal Energy Arts That Render the Practitioner Invincible throughout the Martial Realm” it incorporates some intriguing grinding intensity, although this is the only track on the album which did not impress me much.
- Music / Songwriting 8/10
- Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
- Mix / Production 10/10
- Artwork & Packaging 8/10
- Originality 9/10
Among the many brutal death metal albums released this year “劇變 (Jubian)” comes as a high recommendation for fans of grindcore/crust metal, this is recommended if you like Terrorizer, Napalm Death, and Dismember.