Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Full Length Review: RIPPED TO SHREDS Mai-zang (Night Rhythms) by Serafima Okuneva

Limited edition vinyl release of 150 copies
Place of origin: San Jose, California, USA
Genre: Old school death metal
Previously released on Malaysia's Necrolatry Records (cassette) & Mexico's Craneo Negro Records (CD)
Reamping mixing & mastering by Damian Herring at Subterranean Watchtower Studios
Cover artwork by Skaðvaldur
Release date: October 31, 2018
Welcome to the underworld of Ripped To Shreds, dear Deads! This debut LP of this one-man project from California rushing with bestial rage and destroying everything in its path. Name of album 埋葬 (pronounced mai-zang), means burial. The first character 埋 is ‘bury,’ which is used in general for anything. 葬 also means ‘bury’ but specifically for the dead. Chinese has a lot of doubling of characters for emphasis. And yes, this music definitely tramples you into the ground with heavy and sepulchral sound!
The undoubted plus this project is the absolute freedom of expression through the founding member Andrew Lee’s abilities. A person who confidently owns the spectrum of the tools he needs can do everything that his sick and frantic mind can do. It's pleasant to understand and hear how skillfully and confidently Lee manipulates his aggression within the framework of the OSDM genre, revealing his abilities fully and brightly. 埋葬 demonstrates a smarter, more coherent approach to writing love letters to the Swedish scene of old. The canonic death metal passages, performed on instruments of high quality, make it clear what inspired him and what he wants to convey to the audience.
It's interesting how many meanings, memories and ideas are embedded in the compositions. For example, the track Red Annihilation loosely covers the mass media cover of the Communists in the Shanghai Massacre of 1927. 撿骨 (Bone Ritual) was inspired by attending the Buddhist funeral of Lee’s grandfather. There’s a long process of reading Buddhist scripture over the corpse to tell the soul of the deceased that it’s okay to travel to heaven and not stay attached to the human world. During this period you’re supposed to eat vegetarian, so if you’re in China or Taiwan and you’re on a street that’s got a lot of vegetarian restaurants, you might be near a funeral home. Then there’s the proper funeral ceremony, after which the corpse is cremated. Cremation still leaves many pieces of bone behind, so they are picked up by the sons and grandsons with long handled chopsticks and placed inside a funerary urn, with all the feet parts first and the skull fragments last at the top. This process is called 撿骨 (jiangu), which literally means “picking up the bones.”
The cover art has strong and deep symbolism. It awakens inexplicable mystical and unpleasant feelings, sending us the history and culture of China. The art depicts a traditional Han Chinese grave surrounded by a forbidding mountain range. On the first day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, there is the Qingming Festival, or ‘Tomb Sweeping Day,’ where families visit their ancestors’ graves to clean them and honor them with libations and other offerings. So for the grave to be dirty and unkempt as drawn is to dishonor the ancestors. Shocking, respectful, impressive with a strong context of Chinese culture.
埋葬 is powerful death metal with a good portion of hardcore punk: murderous riffs and solos, and fierce drums brilliantly alternating with poisonous, tragic duma passages. A hoarse shout tells old stories about the death throes of wretched people, stinking corpses and exaggerations of death of mankind. Recommended for fans of old school death metal! If you like Entombed, Asphyx or Bolt Thrower, and a rotten, heavy, cruel sound, make it loud. -Serafima Okuneva

Andrew Lee: All instruments

Track list:
1. Craven Blood
2. Open Grave
3. Talisman to Seal the Hopping Corpse Before It Steals Your Qi
4. 撿骨 (Bone Ritual)
5. Yellow River Incident, 1938
6. Red Annihilation
7. God Worshipping Society
8. 罌粟花 (Black Seeds)

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