Released: 2016, Self-Released
It is unusual, but wholly welcome when I hear a band that I cannot immediately categorized. Thus is the case with Perth, Australia’s Reapers Riddle. Formed in 2009, the band has released a few EPS but THE END IS NIGH is their first full-length album. THE END IS NIGH does not sound like anyone else that I have heard. There is a potent combination of melodic riffs that offer a vaguely NWOBHM feel but all delivered at a mostly mid-paced tempo. Importantly, the riffs are catchy and sink into the brain like all good riffs should.
After a brief intro, “Disintegrate” opens things in high fashion, with a driving verse riff and thumping bass that anchors the sound properly. Clayton Mitchell’s vocals are a somewhat acquired taste, but it is different and fits the music. The next song, “War on Indulgence”, continues with the forward momentum and features another anchoring riff and tasteful fills and solos. Not until the title track does the band feature elements of another band, namely in the Mustaine-inspired verse vocals where Mitchell borrows Mustaine’s spoken approach from “Sweating Bullets.” There is also a subtle and brief Van Halen guitar piece before the main solo.
Changing the pace considerably is the slow march of “Rise of the Macchina”, a bare bones affair that strips things to a minimum in the spirit of Saint Vitus’s famously minimalist approach. It’s not a bad song, but a bit slower than I like. As the album continues there is more variety, as in the decidedly rocking and upbeat “Welcome to the Wasteland.” Reapers Riddle proves themselves to be adept at straddling that rock and metal line, frequently crossing from one side to the other but with confidence and a refusal to play only one style. Mitchell also shows versatility with his somewhat limited range using growls, harsh vocals, and occasionally sounding like Kyle Thomas from Alabama Thunderpussy.
The mix is decent and undiluted, no real polish or studio wizardry being applied to the blue collar production of the album. The only negative is that the album is simply too long for this style of direct and no-frills music, featuring 12 tunes and 64 minutes of playing time. Much of this is spent on the 13 minute closing track, “Tnaryt Esir”, an ambitious, if uneven song, that starts like gothic female-fronted metal before taking a meandering path to the end. Nevertheless, THE END IS NIGH is a refreshing offering from a band that definitely deserves monitoring and one that should offer equal appeal to fans of more modern NWOBHM and melodic, uncomplicated heavy metal.