Ripe - A moment of forever 3.5/5

Reviewed: 2-1-11


1. Derelict
2. Backstabbin’ promise
3. Anywhere from here
4. Razorblade kiss
5. Sweet little sin
6. A moment of forever
7. Stalemate pressure
8. Dreamers of decadence
9. Anthem of fire
10. Fate fiction
11. Kill Cupid
12. Funeral for a kitten

Danish quintet Ripe have been flying under the radar for some time now. They formed back in 2000, and have released 2 full-length CDs, including their most recent opus, ‘A moment of forever’, on the Mighty Music label. The only “name” musician in the band that anyone might recognize is bassist Bob Thunder (stage name, maybe, ya think?), who played and continues to play with the recently-reformed cult early-80s metal act Evil. Within the last few weeks, Ripe parted ways with Mr. Thunder, so that tidbit of trivia is now moot, I suppose.

Upon listening to ‘A moment of forever’, it immediately becomes clear that this is quality melodic heavy metal with a foot planted firmly in both the old and newer schools. Vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl is blessed with a fine, powerful voice that many have compared to the Scorpions’ Klaus Meine. While I hear the similarity in some spots on some particular lines, it may be overstated. Dahl is no clone and has a raspier edge to his throat than the sublime Meine ever did. Musically, Ripe fuse thick, crunchy, quite heavy twin guitars with an 80s melodic metal sensibility that sometimes crosses the line to hard rock. Genre classification is a bit of a chore for Ripe, and the band’s label whiffs mightily (get it? the label’s name is Mighty Music) by placing a sticker on the CD proclaiming it “For fans of Pretty Maids and Mercyful Fate.” For starters, what the heck do Pretty Maids and Mercyful Fate have in common other than both being metal acts from Denmark? I can kind of hear the Pretty Maids analogy, at least if we’re talking about heavier Pretty Maids (not their wimpier stuff). Mercyful Fate? No way, other than the occasional harmony guitar bit that is vaguely reminiscent of Shermann/Denner or LaRocque/Wead (and, of course, the one guitar solo that Michael Denner himself performs on this CD).

The best I can do would be to say that Ripe sound like an amalgamation of Pretty Maids, Saint Deamon, and Godiva (circa their magnificently fun ‘Call me under 666’ CD). The Saint Deamon reference point might be the most accurate, in that both bands specialize in writing ultra-catchy, to-the-point, melodic European metal songs with powerhouse vocals. That said, Ripe owe less to Hammerfall than do their kindred spirits in Saint Deamon, and perhaps tread a bit more on the side of today’s metal and hard rock touches. But let’s forget about classifications for a minute and get back to the songs. Ripe have written a batch of pretty smashing tunes. Opener “Derelict” instantly starts things off on the right foot with an addictive chorus, “Like a derelict ship/On an empty ocean/I fight my wars inside.” Track 4, “Razorblade kiss”, is equally infectious and cries out for airplay on metal radio shows around the world. Most of the 12 songs are worthy, well-crafted, and memorable, although the strongest material is clustered toward the front end of the CD. The other song that deserves special mention is the title track, a 7-minute classy power ballad that builds beautifully and showcases Dahl’s superb pipes.

So what’s the problem here? Part of it really is image and marketing. The band name is not the most, hrmmmm, inspired I’ve ever heard. The cover art (a fuzzy image depicting water rushing in through a skylight or trap door thingy onto an ornate sofa) looks like the kind of low-budget piffle that graces so many awful prog-metal CDs. Lyrically, as well, Ripe could use some work, as the “get-down-with-me-baby” leanings of “Sweet little sin” are pretty embarrassing, and the libretto of “Razorblade kiss” ain’t much better. Add to that song titles like “Kill Cupid” and “Funeral for a kitten” (I swear I’m not making that last one up) and it’s not so hard to see why the metal hordes have not rushed out to embrace the band. I won’t even mention the band photo in which one guy’s wearing a tuxedo jacket, vest, and cravat, while the guy behind his left shoulder looks like a refugee from a punk rocker convention and the guy next to him looks like he could have been a founding member of Saxon (or maybe Ian Hill’s older brother). See what I mean? The high-quality melodic metal message just gets lost amidst all of these bewildering distractions and disparate accoutrements.

That said, I do recommend Ripe to devotees of the crunchy, song-oriented, catchy melodic metal style exhibited on CDs like Godiva’s ‘Call me under 666’ and Saint Deamon’s ‘Pandeamonium’. Also, I recently learned that Ripe are on the cusp of releasing their 3rd CD, to be entitled ‘Eloquence of silence’, within the next few months. Here’s hoping they’ve jettisoned some of the fluff and distilled the essence of their attack, while retaining their top-notch songwriting abilities. Time will tell...




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