Reviewed: October, 2020
Released: September 25, 2020 WormHoleDeath
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
Thrash metal, that name brings back so many memories. Being there when the original thrash movement started is both an honor and a curse. The reason I say that is that because I remember the birth of the first true extreme metal genres, I tend to be a bit more critical of most modern thrash bands. While I tend to lean more towards the German/European movement of early thrash, I do love some thrash from this side of the pond. Under the Oak from Norway is literally a tribute/cover band that focuses on classic 80s thrash…..and Candlemass! After picking up a following as a cover band, it was time to write some original material. The result is their debut album, cheekily titled, RIPPED UP BY THE ROOTS.
Just shy of an hour long, the album contains 10 originals and two covers (Candlemass’ “Solitude” and Exciter’s “Ponding Metal”). Straight out of the gate you can tell their influences are pretty much Bay Area. Their vocalist, Jostein Sandaker, reminds me of a cross between Zetro Sousa and Bobby Blitz Ellsworth. The opener, “Tribulation,” has some nice blasts and some killer riffs mixed with some groove riffing to have a nice balance. They are not reinventing the wheel here but they are having some fun. Their first single and video, “Chaos in the Pit” is a fun American thrash number. Nice crunchy riffs with that speedy punky vibe. The lack of a killer solo really holds this one back. In fact, as fun as this album can be, the lack of some seriously godly soloing kind of makes this seem forced. There are solos on some songs, but this is 80s thrash. The solos that do grace this album are not the ruthless shredding that you would find on a thrash album of the day while some are just underwhelming. “The Fountain” has a cool little solo in the middle but the way it breaks down just doesn’t seem to fit.
As I work my way through, I discover that the album is not very consistent. The songs are fun and executed well. The production is nice and clean with the guitars right in your face but it leaves you wanting. “”Hymn to the Fallen” starts off as a great idea but loses steam halfway through. There it seems to have this clean part going back and forth with this chugging part leading to another underwhelming solo. Then out of nowhere it picks up the chorus and main riff again. That is the theme of this album. Some ideas work well, some do not. The album length adds more to the issues of this album. If there was more consistency with songwriting, it would not feel like it should be two to three songs shorter. “Wrath of Nature” would be my favorite on the album. Nice riffing with a mix of grooves and speed with, finally, a good solo!
Overall, I think the band was trying too hard to not leave any roots behind when they were ripped up. That is admirable but it left some of the album lacking. The two covers are actually the best songs on the album. These guys are quite capable of making great thrash, you can tell. I’d be curious to see what they do next.