Reaper - An Atheist Monument (Massacre Records)

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Release Date: 
25 Jul 2014 (All day)

German headbangers Reaper have been going, somewhat incredibly, for thirty years, and An Atheist Monument is their fifth full length album. Of course keeping a band going for thirty years is a massive achievement, and certainly one worthy of praise, but after listening to this mix of unprepossessing trad metal, thrash and death rehashings you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘what’s the point of it all?’

As usual when offering a less than positive review I have to qualify any negative sentiments with the ‘it’s all really well played et cetera’ statement, but really you already know that anything coming out on a label as well established as Massacre reaches a basic level of competency, right? An Atheist Monument kicks off with four completely faceless heavy metal workouts and the first thing even approaching memorable is the fifth song, Hail the New Age, which at least injects a melodic refrain into proceedings and pricks up the ears of the listener. Things then rally for Voice Within and the excellent 1943, wherein the band introducess a bit of Teutonic thrash a la Kreator into the mix with immediate and enlivening results. Reaper aren’t a thrash band, and we mustn’t expect them to do this in every song, but when they up the speed and bile it really is noticeable and most welcome.

Ship of Fools has a jaunty touch of Maiden and actually bounces along in good fashion – it’s the closest thing here to a ‘single’, with some nice guitar flourishes and a fist-banging verse that’ll surely go down well when played live, whilst Well of Poison is slower, with a definite whiff of Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl in the histrionic vocals of Daniel Zimmerman, and actually Grave Digger is probably as good as any a pointer if you really want to know what Reaper sound like in the grand scheme of things. Solid, efficient, very occasionally enthralling but generally just a bit ‘meh’, Reaper provide a sort of heavy metal background music that is pleasant enough but completely inessential.