Agitated Atmosphere: Roped Off – Rides the Lightning/Kills ‘em All

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Roped Off.

Bands tread dangerous territory when borrowing from megastars. Even with the slightest tweak, backlash overtakes any sense of tribute or irony and engulfs those innocents in the fury of diehard fans, angered at the image of a two-bit band trying to piggy back off those megastars. Fans are a loyal crew and should they be crossed, it can’t be pretty.

Roped Off manage to avoid such a mess with their riskily titled cassette, Rides the Lightning/Kills ‘em All. Paying tribute in name to two of Metallica’s earliest albums, the duo of Mike Haley (proprietor of 905 Tapes and versatile musician) and Dave Doyen (proprietor of 2:00 AM Tapes and equally versatile musician) go as far away from the metal motif of the legendary rockers.

Released in a small quantity via Weird Forest, Rides the Lightning/Kills ‘em All strays from the violent imagery of the Metallica albums in favor of drawn out ventures into zen. “Rides the Lightning” swallows the A-side in a funky rhythm Lars Ulrich dares not attempt to beat out, as easy synth replaces the dark, blistering riffs of metal mayhem. B-side “Kills ‘em All,” is even tamer, floating on slowly rolling sea of synthesizer as the mighty roar of the ocean sways a tranquil raft back and forth. There is no need for rescuing, however, as Haley and Doyen are content to wash ashore with nothing more than the wind at their backs and a melody in their heads.

sample “Rides the Lightning”:

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Roped Off don’t meddle with their borrowed namesakes, choosing an enlighten path that may allow the disenfranchised to remember the Metallica before Napster and group therapy. Of course, Haley and Doyen may have just given Metallica a dose of their own medicine with a hearty ‘metal up your ass’ tribute draped in synth. Doesn’t matter, for the beauty of Rides the Lightning/Kills ‘em All stands on its own; a vast ocean ripe for more title mining and transfiguration.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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