Pure Steel Records
All Access Rating: B+
|Ruthless - They Rise 2015|
The long wait was worth it for the cult that grew up around the 1984 EP Metal Without Mercy and 1986's Discipline of Steel LP, two records of uncompromising, hard-bitten heavy metal that reek of death and decay.
Produced and engineered by Bill Metoyer (W.A.S.P., Slayer, Armored Saint), They Rise is the mean and rugged product of an unlikely reunion between vocalist Sammy D, guitarist/vocalist Kenny McGee, guitarist Dave Watson, bassist/vocalist Marc McGee and new drummer Jason Van Slyke – an old-school, blood-and-guts metal album that's vicious and fast and sounds as if it was recorded in dirty, abandoned factory and left there to die by Blackie Lawless.
As rabid and raw as ever, their tense, serrated guitar riffs cutting like a saw, Ruthless thrashes through the toxic waltz of the title track with tight energy, charges into "Defender" like a soldier full of blood lust and unleashes pent-up emotions in the stampeding "Frustration," with the heavy, thudding grooves of "Out of Ashes" infected with a delicious and gripping nastiness that's missing from today's well-manicured and overly fussy metal.
Solid, rugged and exciting from the electrifying opening power chords, They Rise isn't most imaginative offering to the metal gods, nor does it have the ambition to reach for grandiose heights. Nevertheless, it burns hot, although the chilly, darkly melodic intro to "Laceration" – a track that later explodes with thunderous sturm und drang – and the melodic "Circle of Trust" and "Time Waits" provide rare moments of rough, calmer beauty. Sammy D.'s screams are devilishly evil, and so is the bullish, radioactive riffage and the occasional interwoven dual-guitar leads, all of it reminiscent of early Iron Maiden. They're still Ruthless.
– Peter Lindblad