Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction

Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction
Self-Released
Release Date: 16/10/2020
Running Time: 37:53
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

Merseyside. An area in the North West of England, known for some interesting stuff; The Beatles, a couple of decent football teams (one arguably better than the other – which one that is, I’ll leave up to you to decide), and the exit point of the River Mersey into the North Sea (I believe there’s a ferry across it, too. I heard it once in a song 🤣). And now, Merseyside has a new offering! A young four-piece Progressive Thrash Metal band, by the name of Reaper. Over the last couple of years, we’ve become quite friendly with their frontman, Dan Moran, so it’s a great pleasure to now be able to review their second full length album, “Stranger Than Fiction”.

Inspired by the great and good of Thrash, Prog, and Classic Metal, Reaper create a sound that’s full of thumping melodies, entwined with faster thrash riffs, and intricate rhythms, which give the sound a distinct edge. “Stranger Than Fiction” was originally set to be an EP, but then Covid happened, and the lockdown that followed led to some intense and inspired writing, leaving them with enough material to go the whole hog! The concept of being thrust into life in a world full of chaos, then learning to accept that chaos is all part of life’s rich tapestry, forms the basis of this album. It explores some of the harsher sides of life that run starkly through the world, especially at the current time.

After a short introduction, made up of a collection of chaotic samples to set the scene, ‘Sigil’, the bands previously released single, kicks the actual music off. It’s pacey and full of epic riffage and thrashy rhythms, with Dan’s vocals ripping over the top of everything. His voice is somewhere between Rob Halford and an angry Bruce Dickenson! Powerful and gritty, with a great range, and an even bigger lung capacity (there’s some ridiculously long notes in this track)!

‘The Titan’ is slightly slower, but still with all the vim and vigour you want from a meaty Thrash track. It’s a real thumper. It gets a bit trippy in the middle, too, before coming back to shotgun staccato work on the guitars, bass, and drums, and a pretty epic guitar solo. This thunderous sound is continued in the first half of ‘Upon The Sun’. However, halfway through, it suddenly drops into a quite acoustic section, followed by a proggy interlude, which really mixes things up a bit! Again, this is another belter.

‘Flight’ takes an amble through full on prog, with a heavy edge. It’s many cross-rhythm sections, discordant guitar solos, and bonkers vocal effects, intertwine to create a reasonably psychedelic, hallucinogenic experience. Don’t try and bang your head to this one. It will just annoy you! Just pay attention instead! There’s so much going on in it, that you’ll find something new with each listen.

The business end of the album brings the thrash back, (with ‘Jericho’ being a full-on thrash number that you just have to move to) then goes all out thrash prog genius for the final two tracks, ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Walk The Sky’, which are both of epic length, and by far my favourite tracks on the album.

‘Afterlife’ starts off pacey and powerful, then builds and builds, until it crashes into the stratosphere of epic melodic prog, before finally coming back down to earth, with an acoustic guitar closing the track. It’s so emotive and exciting! I think it might be my favourite Reaper song ever, actually! ‘Walk The Sky’ is almost a resolution of ‘Afterlife’. It offers a fair amount of heavy and pacey thrash riffs early on, but then floats down into intricate, measured, chilled out prog. The symbolic “moment of acceptance and contentment” realising and resolving the discordant chaos.

I love this album. And the more I listen to it, the more I hear in it. If you like anything thrashy, with some added diversity, then you need this in your playlist. It’s interesting and exploratory, and musically, its skilfully executed, tight, and displays a mature professionalism that goes way beyond the band’s years. I’ve only held back from giving “Stranger Than Fiction” a perfect 10 because I believe that Reaper still have even more to give. And that, my friends, is a hellishly exciting prospect!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Event Horizon
02. Sigil
03. The Titan
04. Upon The Sun
05. Flight
06. Jericho
07. Afterlife
08. Walk The Sky

LINE-UP:
Daniel Moran – Vocals, Guitar
Anthony Capitano – Guitar
Elliott Kyriakides – Bass
Anthony Longworth – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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