Ripped to Shreds, everyone’s favourite Bay Area death/doom/grind project (a self-proclaimed title – I’d argue about the doom part), released a brand new demo back in March. Eight Immortals Feast contains two new songs and an Insect Warfare cover, and going off a handful of listens, Andrew Lee seems to have expanded upon his established style – and for the better.
Ripped to Shreds came out of a project idea revolving around Chinese lore themed death metal; albeit it is necessary to know that Andrew is Taiwanese, an important difference when unpacking the themes at hand. Of course, the two countries separated after the Chinese civil war, of which Ripped to Shreds’ debut album more-so deals with. A brief Google search reveals that the Eight Immortals are a band of individuals who attained immortality via a bizarre set of events. I can only assume that the demo project discusses unethical means of attaining bodily divinity, hence the whole “feast” part, but since lyrics haven’t been made available as of now, one can only speculate. If only we could hear what these people say when they sing. We’re also kind of lucky that the lyrics aren’t available, as my white self would probably just badly misinterpret them; I can talk about this death metal though.
Eight Immortals Feast is also important as it is the band’s first recorded material with new drummer Gu Ji. Prior to this, Ripped to Shreds was a project only of Andrew’s mind, to which I believe most of the future material will be as well, but there are band members now. It is unclear whether or not the band will assimilate into a group effort, or if these new members (there’s a guitarist as well) will only be live additions, but either way it will be interesting to see how the project’s sound evolves over the course of the next few years. The new members are also based in Taiwan, but Andrew did tell me in an older interview that he was planning on moving back there, so its all really up in the air. Anyways, on with the music.
Eight Immortals Feast still remains true to the band’s established formula – maniacal drumming and vocals slapped over Bolt Thrower/Terrorizer riffs. However, Andrew really molded this seemingly derivative formula into a sound of his own on the debut with the help of unique songwriting and innovative themes. Not a lot of bands tackle Asian thematics, at least proportionately to how many American bands sing about decapitated heads, so this whole project just feels really fresh. Eight Morals Feast continues with this cultural discussion.
From what I can tell, Ripped to Shreds has moved towards the uncomfortable and the insane. The song structures are still there – we’ve still got that three to four minute formula of songs strategically packed with riffs of varying tempos – but these two new tracks seem to really be geared towards keeping you on the edge of your seat. Perhaps it’s the demo production with the chunky guitar tones and the generally unrefined sound here at play, but you can tell that the band has decided to take a step further into the grindcore territory, hence the Insect Warfare cover.
“Ripped to Shreds,” self-titled and opening track, describes what I outline above perfectly. Without dwelling too far into a track-by-track, the song opens with medium pace, and by the first fifteen seconds or so, the listener is introduced to the band – drums, guitar, bass, and vocals. However, be it the unsettling riffs or constantly-driven sound, you can tell the song was crafted to really build up to something. Andrew did a similar thing on “Open Grave” off of his first record, albeit in a less advanced fashion. That song also builds up to a section where Andrew basically screams the top of his head off, but the track is more or less linear. “Ripped to Shreds” keeps in line with the grindcore element of this whole new sound, and is, well, not as linear. Its still old-school death metal I’d say, so its not as intense as something like Wormrot, but the whole track is just unsettling and ends up building towards a similar section of maniacal screaming.
The second track, “Eight Immortals Feast,” continues within this theme. The track is a bit more structured in the sense that it feels more like a collection of riffs, but not necessarily in a bad way. I feel like “structured” is the right word here. In addition, the two songs also incorporate tinges of harmony here and there, creating a great balance between the absurd and the cohesive art form.
I’m really impressed with this release. As stated above, its not necessarily clear whether or not Andrew’s newfound companions have any input, but regardless, this is a strong demo. I’m hoping these two numbers see a more official release on an EP or LP, as it’d be a shame if they fell into the abyss of cassette culture to never be heard again. I doubt it, though, as one of the tracks is named after the band, so it’d be weird if that one didn’t show up on any new material. Regardless, Andrew seems to have kept his sound and expanded upon it with some newfound grindcore elements. This is juicy stuff, keep an eye on this kid.