Album Review: Reaper – Stranger Than Fiction

Album Review: Reaper - Stranger Than Fiction

Album Review: Reaper - Stranger Than Fiction
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

A friend of mine described Reaper’s debut release ‘Birth of Chaos’ as an “all you can eat buffet of absolutely relentless riffs”. Two years after that release, the Merseyside outfit’s second album suggests that, unlike most hotel breakfasts, the buffet is still very much in operation, albeit the meat might be slightly less substantial. Rest assured, there are riffs a plenty, littered like broken glass across this release, which was initially planned as an EP.

Whilst the debut was a full of package of face melting thrash, the band have moved towards a more progressive style on ‘Stranger than Fiction’. After the intro of ‘Event Horizon’, it’s initially business as usual with the single ‘Sigil’, which retains the full-on thrash style. ‘Titan’ which follows is much slower, progressive, and thicker in girth. Almost Metal Church in delivery with Daniel Moran’s vocals echoing Mike Howe in parts, this is a monstrous track.

Album Review: Reaper - Stranger Than Fiction

‘Birth of Chaos’ suffered from an extremely poor production and the band have taken that on board with ‘Stranger than Fiction’. At least the bass is audible on this release! In fact, the production is a vast improvement. Written throughout lockdown, one can only applaud the subtle amendments to the band’s style which become more apparent as the album progresses. ‘Upon The Sun’ retains some of Reaper’s earlier Megadeth style with a completely unexpected acoustic breakdown at the mid-point. I’m still undecided if this or the melodic change which follows works or not. One for you to ponder, I think. It certainly drags back onto the original course although Moran’s vocals struggle slightly in the lower octaves. ‘Flight’ is reminiscent of Breed 77, although the song appears to have a slight Mexican/ Spanish feel which adds to the variety on the album whilst ‘Jericho’ has a solid heavy metal song at its core and explodes back into full throttle thrash at times.

Reaper state that the move to a more progressive metal focus was clear. Tackling subjects like political bias, cancel culture, racial prejudice, and even sex addiction, Reaper are certainly unafraid of the bigger issues that pervade society. The overarching progression and theme of the album is learning how to accept that chaos is an intrinsic part of life, beginning as if being thrown into a world of disarray and continuously becoming more controlled and centred.

Whilst Reaper, who are of course BOA New Blood Alumni, retain the razor-sharp guitar work throughout, there is something warming about the variation and expansion that they have carved throughout this release. Change and variety in a world of stagnation and chaos. Sounds like something we can all applaud on an album that grows with every play.

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