Ripped to Shreds – 亂 (Luan) Review

Masterminded by talented individual Andrew Lee, Bay Area’s Ripped to Shreds explore traditional, no-frill, spine-severing values of old school death. I’ve been keeping close tabs on the band since they emerged with 2018’s impressive debut LP 埋葬, essentially a one-man wrecking ball of vibrant, riff-riddled, suitably vicious death, owing a debt to legends of the past. Following a lengthy period of derivative stagnation, old school death in its various, insidious forms has gained significant traction and momentum in recent years. Ripped to Shreds are primed to make their own impression, bringing the heart and hardware on sophomore album 亂 (Luan), beefing up their rising status as a formidable force in the current death metal scene.

Lee’s line-up for this destructive sophomore platter is bolstered by the addition of drummer Justin Bean, while Tom Warrior1adds some dramatic synth work into the mix. Steering clear of the more progressive old school approach from modern trailblazers like Horrendous, Ripped to Shreds instead operate in similarly punishing fashion as fellow old school heavyweights Extremity, aiming straight for the jugular and rarely letting up across the album’s relentless campaign. This would mean fuck all if Ripped to Shreds didn’t possess the writing chops and riffs to rumble the underground. Thankfully concerns in this regard are rapidly and brutally squashed. Following the dramatic and ominous notes of the intro, Ripped to Shreds dispense with the pleasantries on the awesomely titled “Righteous Fist to the Teeth of the Wicked.” It’s a raw, rampant tune and potent early serving of what Luan has to offer.

Drawing influence from death metal’s rich past, Ripped to Shreds pound out buzzsaw riffage, d-beat thrashcapades, and malevolent melodies straight outta Stockholm, coupled with the blastier, more technical properties of the classic Floridian scene. Ripped to Shreds inject enough fresh energy and writing to avoid being another derivative knock-off. Although a palatable and accessible album, when Ripped to Shreds reach white-hot intensity, such as the explosive mid-section of “Eight Immortals Feast,” they embrace grindier influences, recalling classic Terrorizer. This serves to add an extra layer of raw extremity to proceedings. Speed is the album’s weapon of choice, but there’s enough structural variety and festering grooves to largely prevent monotony creeping in. For instance, “Throes of a Dying Age” channels Obituary and explores doomier terrain during its patient first half before raising the stakes with blastier fare. And for what they lack in variety, Lee’s rabid vocals are a gnarly, urgent and appropriate accompaniment to the album’s formidable armory.

Ripped to Shreds get by with a little help from their friends and Luan is all the better for it. While the core duo of Lee (vocals, guitars, bass) and Bean operate with the tenacity and weight of a much larger unit, there are some inspired contributors featured. The propulsive, unchained violence and fetid grooves of highlight “白骨精 (White Bone Spirit)” is punctuated by a sterling solo from the awesome Takafumi Matsubara (Gridlink, Formless Master). While the blasty, knotted fury of “Opening Salvo” is adorned with a fantastic, multi-layered, utterly inspired guest spot from prolific shredder Phil Tougas (Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, Eternity’s End). Adding to the arsenal is Horrendous kingpin Damian Herring, who demonstrates his formidable talents on closer “Remnants” as well as providing a typically dynamic mastering job.

There are no real lowlights to speak of, though the stronger tunes stand above the pack, while “Intro” and “Interlude” feature thematic synth work but sound a bit out of whack amidst the firestorm. Regardless, for death metal enthusiasts of all persuasions, Luan is an easy album to like. Ripped to Shreds weave their own fresh threads through a labyrinth of familiar influences, grafting new flesh onto ragged old bones. It’s the impassioned, feral delivery and strong writing that elevates the band in the ever-crowded realms of the old school death scene.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Pulverised Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 17th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. No, not the Celtic Frost Tom. – Steel
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