Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Retroview: Ripping Corpse / Dim Mak

In case it wasn't obvious from my gushing about bands like Forced Entry and Believer, I have a real soft spot for technical thrash that's progressive without being prog. There is perhaps no better example of that style than New Jersey's finest, Ripping Corpse (and their sister band Dim Mak).

Ripping Corpse - "Dreaming With The Dead" (1991)
I am going to skip the demos because (as I recall) the songs are all on this album. I'm sure some "I ONLY LIKE THE DEMO!!" idiot will correct me on that, and of course tell me that the demos are better than the full length. Well, that's what the comments are for.

In any case, this is a masterpiece of offbeat, unique thrash. The thing that really sets Ripping Corpse apart is the way that they always seem to accent the parts you don't expect. So if you were trying to dance to it, you would always end up on the wrong foot. Maybe one of you tards can tell me the musical term for this, it could just be syncopation. For example, the second riff in the song above, "Anti-god," is all herky jerky and fucked up like there are extra beats here and there. "Chugging Pus" is another really good example of those strange accents. Shaune Kelley also has a very unique style of lead that reminds me a lot of James Murphy, only I think this predates anything James Murphy did?

The only weak spot is the cover, which is rather unfortunate. I appreciate the fact that it doesn't have an oil painting of a monster or an evil politician (with toxic waste behind him, naturally), but to me it's just an indicator of Scott Ruth being a big weirdo. I'm imagining him trying to articulate some bizarre, pseudo-metaphysical concept to the poor shmuck who had to paint the cover, who is only halfway listening and already doodling up this image of a vaguely Central American temple with some guy sitting in the middle of the floor. It makes about as much sense as the bloody saw on the cover of "Human Waste" hacking away at a single femur bone (see "Great moments in art history: Suffocation").

8/10 bloody axes

Dim Mak - "Enter The Dragon" (1999)
This will probably be controversial, but I think this Dim Mak record is what Ripping Corpse meant to be. It continues with the weird, meandering leads, off-kilter accents, and barking vocals, but adds much, much more polished drumming courtesy of Mr. Brandon Thomas and generally more interesting, complex songwriting. Sadly I can't find any of their studio songs on YouTube, so you'll have to settle for this live stuff. The quality isn't the best, but you can definitely hear the drums really well which will tell you a lot about why this record is so awesome. You should definitely download it to give it a chance with nice production. The only possible negative is that this band clearly inspired infamous merchants of Jersey shore slamming groove Waking the Cadaver, who pretty much directly ripped off the winding leads of Shaune Kelley.

Most of the lyrics are about Bruce Lee movies and other martial arts-related stuff like courage, "royal ass whippings," and dragons. Um yeah... that's a little too close to anime tentacle-rape snuff porn territory for me, but whatever. I think there's something in the water down there in the Jersey shore area that breeds nerds- just ask Kevin Smith. I went to the Woodbridge Mall once and it was full of weirdos trading Pokemon in the food court so I left in a hurry.

9/10 bloody axes

Dim Mak - "Intercepting Fist" (2002)
This record pretty much picks up where "Enter the Dragon" left off, only it's a little more stripped down and fast. Personally I like the first album better because the riffs are a little meatier, the drumming is a little more nuanced, and the songs groove better, but they're both excellent. There's not much else to say about this other than the absolutely dreadful cover art.

8/10 bloody axes

Dim Mak - "Knives of Ice" (2006)
Every one of these retroviews seems to end the same way: I say that their last album isn't that good, but I forgive them for it because the other ones are so good. Well, this is no exception. The big thing here is that Origin's John Longstreth plays drums on this, and he is one of the most boring drummers on the face of the earth. Obviously he can play fast as shit, but that's not what Dim Mak is about. They are about groove, and that's something Mr. Longstreth has a hard time with.

6/10 bloody axes


  1. Both awesome bands but i always thought dim mak covers looked like they were concept pieces based on wu tang clan lyrics? come to think of it so does dwtd must be a jersey wigger thing or maybe its just me.

  2. i was at that Dim Mak show at The College of NJ aka Trenton State. good times. barely anyone there though.

    FWIW, i have a copy of their unreleased 2nd album and while i haven't listened to it in ages it's pretty damn good.

  3. Good call on Dim Mak. Excellent band, but they're a bit of an acquired taste.

  4. Ripping Corpse is one of the most underrated metal bands you'll find. That said, they were pretty big in the NYC/NJ area circa 1991 but they never reached the kind of popularity on a national level they deserved.

    I remember Dave Witte had a cassette of tracks that were going to be on the second Ripping Corpse album. If I recall correctly, one of the songs was called "Growing Ancient With the Cold."

    You should check out the demo version of "Rift of Hate" if you get a chance.

  5. shit i forgot about those unreleased 2nd album tracks. none of them have vocals, right? they sound a lot like dim mak i think.

  6. Exactly, they had no vocals on them. I will ask Dave if he still has them and let you know.

  7. i have mp3s of them, actually, but thanks! did dave ever play with dim mak? it would have been a perfect fit... hes one of the few guys who could fill brandon's shoes.

  8. dear sarge, we all know that you posted this to save your metal credibility after your early midlife crisis confessions in that emo crunk post. poser!

  9. guilty as charged! i've burned all my metal cred for a while, i'll have to stick to super credible stuff for a bit now.

  10. Jersey's finest, indeed! Of course, I'm going to have to disagree with the Sarg as I think Ripping Corpse are superior to Dim Mak, but I do enjoy both bands.

    It's a shame that "Dreaming With the Dead" never got the recognition it deserves. I think that has a lot to do with the label that originally released the album. I don't know the whole story, but apparently they were pretty shady and really fucked the band over in terms of marketing it. Supposedly Relapse has been trying to release a Ripping Corpse discography for the past couple years, but who knows if that will ever happen. I also have mp3s of the instrumental tracks for what was going to be the second Ripping Corpse album and they are incredible. Even better than "Dreaming With the Dead," I think. The fact that that album was never completed is one of the greatest tragedies in metal history, IMO. Also, before they broke up Ripping Corpse recorded three final songs, AKA the 1992 Promo, to shop around to labels. Those three tracks are some of the best death metal ever created.

    I really wish Brandon Thomas would rejoin Dim Mak. John Longstreth is fucking horrible and his playing is completely wrong for their style. Knives of Ice probably would have been awesome if it weren't for his boring drumming.

  11. I think "Dreaming With the Dead" never became a wide success because of the fucking awful production.

    Relapse is also scheduled to release a Nirvana 2002 discography CD, but I'll believe it when I see it.

  12. Speaking of the demos crowd, Sarge, did you see that Kyle Thomas actually said that "the demos were better" than "Slaughter in the Vatican"? That phrase has became so passe.

  13. *become.

    I'm a grammar freak. :-/

  14. Awesome post! But one question: Does the Ripping Corpse love mean there's going to be a ceasefire on Hate Eternal bashing?

    Also, good to know I need to dig a little deeper than "Knives Of Ice" for the best Dim Mak has to offer. I tried and tried to get into that disc but it just wasn't happening.

  15. Sergeant D: my copy of the unreleased album is 14 tracks and has vocals. no track names though. RC/DM are from the area where i reside now and a good friend, who's known them forever, procured me the copy of the album.

    to the person who mentioned the Relapse re-release... i'm pretty posi it's not going to happen due to the guy who owns Kraze. apparently he's not releasing the rights to Relapse. last i heard, it's a no-go.

  16. I think it's time for a Metal Inquisition backed Kraze Records boycott!

  17. Good way to make up for the post about screamo-crunk Sarge. Ripping Corpse fucking rule.

  18. Gunter Ford is probably reading this...

  19. The demos are ALWAYS better than the full lengths. But that's true only for Death Metal bands. Thrash demos (save some exceptions) are rarely better than the albums.

  20. One exception in Thrash Metal that I remember is the Vio-lence "demo 1988". The versions in that demo are much better (powerful) that the ones on the album, but to say that "Slaughter In The Vatican" demo is better than the LP version is fucking insane! Anyway, I love demos, and I prefer Ripping Corpse rather than Dim Mak.
    Weird nobody mentioned Believer after Sarge's mentioned them. I love them and think that people that say they are bad is just because the stupid lyrical content, but I still love them.

  21. Just wanted to say thanks sarge for the honest review and everyone else thanks for the on going support. when shaune, scott, brandon and i got together (20 yrs. ago) i dont think any of us thought it would be what it is today.

    to answer a couple of questions: no the re-release is not happening cja is right, but relapse is selling the record and getting it from someone and just might be for the guy from kraze. they are also selling shirts and hoodies wich does come back to us.

    i did just receive a bunch of stuff including the unreleased stuff with scott playing bass and will probably will put it up on myspace or something when i get a chance after finishing the new speed\kill/hate cd.

    if you guys have any questions you can hit me up on myspace or at or on the ripping corpse myspace at .

    Oh yeah sarge you were right about the cover with scott explaining what it was but rob was pretty smart so he got it right away. it was basically based after an h.p. lovecraft story.


  22. Does the Ripping Corpse love mean there's going to be a ceasefire on Hate Eternal bashing?

    hell no! i have an upcoming post that is all about Hate Eternal bashing, actually.

  23. hey dave! thanks for posting. i hope you know that when we mock, it's all out of love!

  24. im from jersey of course i get it. good work bro.

  25. Lucho & Crew...
    I don't think you could have found a more underrated act to write about than the band that gots its name from the Kreator classic!
    Though my interest in metal is dead, I still love the old stuff, though there are few bands now that I love like Satyricon...
    Anyways, Ripping Corpse were fucking incredible and I have a great story...
    Went to an all day Metal Festival in Orlando, FL when i was about 17! It was headlined by Nuclear Assault, but I wanted to see Monstrosity who were about to release the Imperial Doom record...
    Anyways, I knew the name Ripping Corpse but had not heard them and they wound up being on the bill!
    From the moment they came out, they were on fucking fire, and Scott Ruth was quite scary although he did high five me a few times when they played... I was floored, they had all the perfect elements of quality death/thrash, and some real dark sounding riffs... I was sold! After the show I got to meet Eric Rutan for the first time and we remained friends all through his tenure with Morbid Angel... I picked up DWTD a while later and I loved it, Shaun and Eric had the sickest fucking guitar sounds ever which really added to the atmospheres on songs like "Sweetness" with that amazing start/stop Brandon Thomas beat towards the end... Groundbreaking stuff that reeked of originality yet being GREAT! Glorious Depravity, Sickness Of Will, Anti-God, amazing stuff! Yes I remember reading interviews in say 93' where Scott mentioned Kraze music (no different than JL America, how about a post!?) fucked them over! HOW did these guys not sign another deal asap? Goes to show, while bands like Oppressor, Afterlife, & Broken Hope were getting sign on basis of their trendy scene raping sound, bands like RC were left to suffer!
    Never heard Dim Mak, but I knew they existed!
    Anyways, great post I still have my copy of DWTD and I know they sell rather well on ebay!
    And as for the Gunter Ford comment, yes he managed these guys along with Morbid Angel, and they were just as fucking good!
    Cheers Dave! -LEE

  26. "My sensitivity,
    My Brutality...


  27. @Dave... Vintage Vinyl is selling what appears to be new copies of 'Dreaming With The Dead' on disc. i didn't know if it was a repress or new-old stock. anyway, i saw it and thought it was odd. it looks identical to my OG disc. anyway, thought you'd like to know.

  28. Damn, I can't find my "Enter the Dragon" CD. That video just reminded me that a good album is abscent from my collection.

  29. Thought Brandon Thomas was really good in "The Dying Light".
    Shame they only released one album.

  30. @Anon

    The Dying Light has two full-lengths: Survival Guide To The Apocalypse & The Killing Plan

  31. ah, so glad that mettalinquisition is back on track after the last post...

    I may have just been overwhelmed because the screamo crunk post AND the bright color layout was put on the site at the same time.

    It was a little too much color, and it seemed like the colors of the new layout was designed to match some of the pics and i almost grabbed my flatscreen monitor at work and threw it.

    I was scared, I admit it, but this post has reassured me that all is still well at this blog.

    BTW I will be checking these bands out. I got forced entry after you praised it and my and the woman have been blasting it a few times while driving in my car.

    Get off my lawn seems te be beginning to apply to me and I'm only 24. shit man are we really losing our relevance in the world?

  32. okay just finished reading the other posts, I guess I wasn't alone in my worries, and it seems like this post was posted the next day after last for some damage control, and to prevent us from rioting.

    well it worked...

  33. what was the song..still remember...."deeper, deeper in the woods they're found".......damn...i;m gettin old

    i thought ripping corpse was awesome..

    man hate eternal is a regression .....a step bass akwards in the time machine...spittin' out one blast after that gets old and monotonous fast.