Risk - The Daily Horror News (Steamhammer/SPV) 1988
"Living in Chaos" (5:24)
I absolutely love speed metal and thrash metal. Recently I have been rediscovering some of these old school bands. There were just so many excellent bands in the late 80's and early 90's that many of them were overlooked. Risk are one such band. Risk were a German band that featured ex-Angel Dust guitarist Romme Keymer. Much like the early Angel Dust albums, "The Daily Horror" news is jam packed full of tight, speed metal; speed-driven guitar riffs, fast solos, and plenty of fast, double bass. "The Daily Horror News" was the bands first album, of which they have about five others. Musically, Risk compares to bands like Realm, Agent Steel and Toxik with a touch of Accept's straight forward heavy metal. The vocals are shouted in an almost hardcore style at times and sung in the more typical speed metal style at others. The lyrics are more typical of the speed metal style as well, delving into social and political topics. Also typical of the late 80's thrash and speed metal bands are the "action adventure/violence" lyrics. However, Risk stear clear of the stereotypical "evil" lyrics associated with the 80's metal movements. I must also make mention of the cover art on this one too. Quite amusing. The cartoon animals decked out in their punk and metal apparel are pretty funny, at least I found them so when I first saw the cover. All four animals (Paranha, Chimp, Alligator and Hippo) would make further appearances on the band's next two album covers as well.
Risk - Hell's Animals (Steamhammer/SPV) 1989
More of the same speedy, shredding, heavy, speed metal! If you are a fan of this style of mosh mayhem, then I can't imagine that the crunchy riff work and firey drum work in songs like "Perfect Kill" and "Russian nights" wouldn't get your heart pumping. The only time the band really slows down at all is on the CD bonus track "Epilogue" which is a short, clean guitar instrumental. Lyrically the band is all over the place with social commentaries, Stephen King inspired lyrics ("The secret of our destiny"") and other topics typical of thrash metal. The animals from the front cover of the band's debut return this time around as well. The humorous cover art tells me that despite this bands tight sound, they don't take themselves to serious. This is a good thing in my opinion.
Risk - Dirty Surfaces (SPV/Steamhammer) 1990
Risk's loveable heavy metal zoo returns for a third round. "Dirty Surfaces" is yet another speed metal feast from Risk. However, this time around they offer a bit more variety. After the short intro, "Pyromanic Man" opens up the CD with some fast trash metal. This song is pretty much what I expect to hear from Risk. Other songs like "Like a Roller-Coaster" and "Iron Wheels" have a similar thrash metal feel. However, the entire album isn't like this. "Warchild" is a mid-paced, heavy song with a very cool guitar solo and a gang-chorus that is reminiscent of bands like Accept. Likewise "Blood is Red" is a heavy, mid-paced metal number that strays from the speed metal formula. "Letter from Beyond" is a haunting ballad-like song that climbs and drops from the clean guitars in the verses to the the heavy, distortion incrusted choruses and a heavy solo break in the middle of the song. One thing that struck me while listening to this CD for the very first time was the kill guitar solos peppered throughout this CD. Not unlike early Testament, Risk's guitar solos play a vital part in their songwriting and sound. (thanks Kieran)
Risk - The Reborn (SPV/Steamhammer) 1992
"The Reborn" was appropriately titled as this was a new Risk. Gone are the cute little animal creatures on the cover. Also gone is the speed and fury of past releases, instead replaced with a crushing heaviness that is hard to explain. Each song has a charisma of it's own. The album starts off with a short intstrumental opening before fading into semi-fast paced song titled "Last Warning." This particular song is an epic metal track, although it doesn't seem as though it is over nine minutes long. The song builds and offers some melodic interludes and some cool chants. The next couple tracks are slow but have that crushing heaviness I described earlier. The vocals change here too. Rather than singing, Heimi switches to a sinister style talking. As well, "Lullaby" is a haunting song. It starts off with some melancholy, clean guitars and builds into yet a slow, heavy, doom number. "Awakening" serves as an inro to "Turn Back to Ecstacy" which is a faster number. This one sounds a bit closer to the band's speed metal sound from albums past. The guitar riff for the verses of this song is simple, but cool. "Eclipse" is another short instrumental that serves as the into to "The Night Will Fall". Like the opening instrumental, this song has an Eastern flare to it complete with a sitar. "The Night Will Fall" is another upbeat number with a Metallica-inspired riff and haunting background vocals in the chorus. "Phantasmagoria" is menacing and heavy. Once again, we get some chanting in this song, giving the song that haunting feel. There is also a killer lead break in this song. "Armageddon" is another crushingly heavy song with a Metallica vibe. The CD finishes off with "No One Will Remember", another epic track which builds from a melancholy opening to a slow, heavy number. So, I said all that to basically say that "The Reborn" rules! This is prime German heavy metal and could very well be my favorite Risk CD.
Risk - Turpitude (SPV/Steamhammer) 1993
Risk loose the humor and speed metal sound for mid-paced, experimental, groove oriented metal. Had someone played this CD for me without me knowing who it was, I probably never would have connected it to Risk. Shoot even the cover art is missing those loveable, mischievous animal characters from the early days. However, that is not to say the music is bad. On the contrary, I enjoyed this album quite a bit. While their early material may offer more raw aggression, "Turpitude" offers more character and some fine musicianship. In particular, I loved the outro track, which is somewhat of an instrumental. This particular song is very moody and ethereal feeling. There are several songs on this CD that have a doom feel to them, including the heavy album opener "Cry" and follow-up song, "Materialized". This song has a similar feel as Paradise Lost's "Draconian Times". "Not True" is one of the few songs that touches on the band's past sound complete with gang vocals, "NO! NOT TRUE!" "So Weird" has a sound not unlike a freight train coming down a track. I might even say that there is a bit of a Metallica influence on this track. The song is complete with a wicked wah guitar solo. "Hopeless Ground" is another slow, doomy track that is as melancholy as the title leads one to believe. This track is also complete with a smokin' guitar solo that continues on through the chorus at the end of the song. I can see why Risk fans might be disappointed with "Turpitude". It indeed lacks the aggressiveness of their early material. However, I still find much to like here.