X.I.L – Rip & Tear Review

Following a pretty damn solid year for the thrash genre in 2021, fans of the legendary, often gateway metal genre will be buzzed for more of the same quality in 2022. A good old blast of feisty thrash is always welcome, especially as we swing into the trials, tribulations and hopefully good times of another uncertain year. Kicking off my thrash promos of 2022 is an unheralded act out of Texas, named X.I.L, dropping their self-released debut LP, Rip & Tear. Hellbent on creating noisy, punky, belligerent thrash, X.I.L bring tons of livewire riffage and energy into the equation, blazing a trail of loose, drunken rock ‘n roll, old school thrash and speed metal. The album drips with speed, aggression and solid chops, exuding a fun, rocking vibe and hard living attitude to do the legendary Motörhead proud. Fast, loud and mean metal is what these young guns specialize in.

Rip & Tear pulls no punches and leaves all pretenses at the fucking garage door. That being said, the opening title track thrums and tinkles through a delicate introduction, firing off an early trick shot before kicking into gear, much as the song and album title suggest. It’s all a blast of breakneck old school thrash and speed metal riffs, flatout drum battery and crisp but retro sounding production. The riffy instrumental marks a solid start to proceedings. “Speedemons” showcases the band’s penchant for retro speed metal and light speed assaults, complete with gang vocal chants and rough-hewn charms. It’s a pretty solid example of what X.I.L have to offer throughout Rip & Tear, and the solid riffing, ripping solos, feelgood vibes and frantic pacing exemplify something of a party anthem thrash/speed/rock ‘n roll combo.

Bassist/vocalist Austin James possesses a motormouthed drunken, punk-thrash snarl that doesn’t always hit the mark but lends the album a certain unhinged edge. Tracks like “Breakneck,” boasting a slower, dirty intro before hitting the afterburners, and relentless assault of “Motorcharge,” featuring some cheesy arse samples, are fun in the moment jams, a theme of the album where the sugar rush highs are enjoyable but wear off quickly, with questionable staying power. It’s a shame, as clearly X.I.L have riffs to burn. Overall, the material offers plenty of fun within its rough around the edges aesthetics. Amidst the meat and potatoes retro goodness being pumped through Rip & Tear, X.I.L possess enough quirks and vibrancy to develop their own identity. The album appears to have an alternate reality fantasy/sci-fi theme, adding to the fun and cheese. And when X.I.L deviates beyond their speed metal core, interesting possibilities for expansion and development of their budding sound feature.

Though it creaks under the weight of the track’s ambitious ten-minute length, “Moonlight Mass” is an adventurous trip, showcasing X.I.L easing off the accelerator pedal to explore doomier, groove-based terrain featuring whiffs of Sabbath and Pantera, while still boasting tons of raw speed metal fury. Greater variety in the tempo department makes for an interesting if overlong arrangement. At 46 minutes, X.I.L keep energy levels cranked, but the album may have reaped benefits from tighter editing. Although there are no complete stinkers, mileage varies and the Motörhead influence is a little too pronounced on the derivative “Gone Again.” Performances are solid, especially the guitar work, however, the drumming could use some creative spark and while the vocals are entertaining, they could use a bit more refinement to shave off the more strained and goofier elements. At least in spirit, the unhinged, delirious delivery reminds of Sean Killian (Vio-lence), complete with a snotty punk meets Lemmy charm. On the production front, the material could really pop with beefier tones, as the no-frills retro sound is a little on the thin side.

I cannot deny the base-level enjoyment I’ve garnered from this unsung trio, and I can envision good things in the future based on the brighter moments on this debut LP. Unfortunately, a handful of kinks and lack of truly engrossing material holds the album back from higher honors. Flaws aside, X.I.L is a band with plenty of fire and potential to deliver greater things on future endeavors. And if they can build on their strengths and refine their writing and vocal arsenal, I can imagine the band delivering on their promise. Until then, Rip & Tear is worth a listen and possesses a few bangers to soundtrack a raucous drinking session.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 271 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: xilspeedemons.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/xxexile
Releases Worldwide: February 25th, 2022

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