Obey your master!
Thrash metal. No, wait—THRASH METAL! There, that’s better. As the musical spawn of the Dark One flings its ever-increasing tentacles of sub-genres here and there among the heaviest of heavy bands, only one of these proud appendages invokes headbangery and black T-shirt clad approval from a demographic spectrum that boasts mid-1980s skater-punks on one end and leather jacket-sporting slackers on the other. This sub-genre could only be thrash metal, the hyperactive, solo-laden, riff-heavy cousin of the more well-known heavy metal. While thrash metal may have been an invention of the early 1980s, the mayhem of this class is alive and well and seriously kicking your face in with Reno’s Violent Ruler.
“Everybody tries to start bands so they can play what’s cool,” guitarist Lane Roberts explains. “I was like, ‘I just want to play in a thrash metal band.’ The type of metal we play isn’t very cool. We don’t have cool haircuts or play a bunch of breakdowns.”
The group consists of Roberts on one lead guitar, Morgan Travis on the other lead guitar, Mike Coleman on bass, CJ Blair on drums and Jarad Trevey on vocals. They have existed since July of this year; first as a side project under the name Ruler, then as a semi-full-time project under the name Violent, and now as a full-time face-melter and combination of the two imposing names. Violent Ruler is more than just an epic name, though. The band excels in sturdy, fast, really heavy songs that strike quickly then continue the bludgeoning until all sense of insurgency becomes obedient, and you have no choice but to lose your mind to the whims of this musical wrecking ball.
“Originally, that’s why I was drawn to the band,” Coleman says. “It wasn’t cool, it was just like ‘fuck it, let’s rock.'”
Songs like “Another Spin Around the Axis” and “What Is” employ watertight dual guitar leads that showcase both dexterity and kick-ass songwriting. The band cites their biggest influences as Slayer and Pantera, with a little of local favorites Fall Silent thrown in for good measure. While those influences are clearly visible, the band’s sound is far more current and unique than a group of dudes just aping their favorite metal bands. This may be because of Trevey’s borderline hardcore growl, a singing style that is much tougher and a bit more unhinged than the average thrash frontman. This may also be the result of the guitar-centric songwriting styles used by both Roberts and Travis.
“Either Morgan or I bring a song to the table,” Roberts said. “We show up with the guitar parts completely written, then everybody writes their parts around that.”
The result is songs that have only one purpose: complete guitar rock domination. The drums come loud and quick, and the bass lines are right behind. The vocals shout and roar like some frenzied prisoner hell-bent on breaking through a 10-inch thick concrete wall. But much like elder thrash greats Slayer and Cliff Burton-era Metallica, Violent Ruler know that shredding, intense, rapid-fire guitar lines are what real metal fans want more than anything, and they supply them en masse.
For now, the band is taking a “really lenient” approach to booking shows, playing live only about once a month. Instead, they are working on more songs and gearing up to record a debut record.