Tuesday 22 February 2022


There is a genre of music always guaranteed to attract our attention here at Desert Psychlist and it is a genre that probably causes more confusion than any other. Proto-metal/doom is a term coined a long time after much of the music and many of the bands it is now used to describe had passed into the annuls of history. "Proto" is short for "prototype" and when used in the context of metal or rock music it refers to that period of time between the late 60's and mid to late 70's when some bands were starting to move away from heavy blues and were transitioning towards the heavier dynamics of the music we now refer to as heavy metal and doom. The emergence of stoner/desert rock in the 90's, and its reliance on fuzzed out guitar riffs and strident rhythms, caused many fans of the scene to start looking backwards and delving into the record collections of their parents and older siblings in order to explore where the music they were now listening to had originated from, a journey which not only saw them reassessing the importance of big hitters like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin but also discovering for the first time those "proto" bands who didn't quite make that leap into rocks upper echelon but were nevertheless vital in moving rock and metal towards the sounds we are familiar with today.

San Antonio, Texas quartet Green Ripper's love of proto-metal and doom may have been birthed from that same backwards journey into the past that those stoner rock fans mentioned above undertook or they may have just simply been brought up with it always playing in the background and absorbed its vibe by some form of sonic osmosis, whether by the former or the latter there is no doubting, after listening to the bands debut EP "Dark Sessions", that they have that "proto" sound nailed down to perfection.

First track out of the bag, and the one that the band take their name from, is "Green Ripper" an atmospheric tome played at a mid-tempo pace packed with dark resounding bass and guitar riffs driven hard by economic but nonetheless thunderous percussion. The song boasts clean slightly nasal vocals that are delivered with just a hint of Ozzy-ish nasality but a hint is all it is so lets not start shouting "sabbathian clones" in their faces just yet. Next track "Robotic Woman" is one of those rock songs that if it had been released as a single in the mid 70's might have found itself nestled  in the lower reaches of the music charts, its ascending/descending guitar motifs, galloping rhythms and ear catching vocal melody would certainly have given Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" and Deep Purple's "Fireball" a run for their money back in the day. "Dark Clouds" follows and possesses all the requisite proto-doomic attributes you could ever ask for, thunder effects, wah drenched bass motifs, crunching guitar riffs, swirling solos and suitably despondent lyrical content are all to be found present and correct here while "Hypnotic Hipshaker" throws a few Budgie flavoured chord progressions into the mix to make things even more interesting. "Oh My Darkness" mixes its doom with its metal to create a hybrid of the two that is nigh on impossible not to throw yourself around to, a situation that repeats itself again with the excellent closer "Tired of Living".

Desert Psychlist recently published a review of Swedish/Scottish combo Sleepwulf's latest album "Sunbeams Curl", an album with a similar "proto" feel to Green Ripper's "Dark Sessions" but where Sleepwulf went for an almost "vintage" sound and production with their album Green Ripper have, with their debut EP, opted for a more modern approach. Sleepwulf  attempted (and succeeded) to capture an authentic aged feel with "Sunbeams Curl" but what Green Ripper bring to the table with "Dark Sessions" is an updated version of the sub-genre for an audience used to their music having a slicker contemporary production. 
Check it out .... 

© 2022 Frazer Jones

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