“Knights of Darkness” marks the first major release for Finland’s Ranger. Though often hailed as a speed metal band, Ranger plays the line between thrash and speed metal very closely. All five tracks on this EP feature primarily fast thrashy riffs, and there is not a lot of attention to melody. In fact, though speed metal is often considered to be “Iron Maiden at double speed”, there are very few Iron Maiden-like melodies on “Knights of Darkness”. One notable appearance, however, is on the track “Steel Dawn”, where the band has a harmonized guitar lead that sounds like it was pulled from “Majesty” by Blind Guardian. Aside from this section, and the intro to the EP, the majority of “Knights of Darkness” is a journey into primitive, evil-sounding speed metal. “Knights of Darkness” is loud, fast, and noisy. Right from the opener, “Ranger”, you are assaulted by a battering of drums that don’t let up. The vocals are nothing more than an extension of what Cronos would sound like if Venom played a bit faster. Though the actual tone is different, the attack is much the same. Guitar solos are frequent and are purposely frenetic, adding to the wild fury that the band displays proudly.
Where this EP loses me is in the songwriting itself. There’s nothing wrong with doing something that has been done before, but there’s little to cling to when the EP finishes. It makes for a hollow, superficial experience. Sure, it’s fun while listening to, but at the rate that new bands are spewed forth, I need something that I’m going to come back to often. With that said, I have to commend the band for doing something different from their contemporaries. Very few new bands are playing this style of speed/thrash metal, and it is certainly refreshing to hear.
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3.6/5 or 72%.
Written by Scott