By Dr. Abner Mality
One of the most exciting bands from Europe right now is Ranger, hailing from that hotbed of molten metal, Finland. If bands like Exciter, Agent Steel, Iron Angel and Holy Terror make you salivate, you positively cannot ignore these guys, who bleed early 80’s speed metal. Many retro bands sound like a run through of their heroes. These guys actually equal them!
The latest Ranger opus is “Speed and Violence” and it lives up to its title. What makes these guys so rabidly authentic? The only way to find out is to talk to them, so I make a connection to Helsinki and spoke to Ranger screamer/bassist DIMI PONTIAC. I got to see what was under this Pontiac’s hood, so to speak, so strap yourself in and read on!
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings from America and Wormwood Chronicles! Can you give us a brief history of Ranger? Were any of you involved in other bands before Ranger?
DIMI PONTIAC: Greetings from tour! Ranger was formed around '08 or early '09 for satisfying the hunger for powerful heavy metal. The scene was actually quite lame back then and we wanted to play the loudest and nastiest metal. We were only in school bands or small projects, nothing this serious.
WC: Obviously you love that early 80’s speed metal. Has it always been that way or was there a particular band that opened your eyes to this style of music?
DP: . First I listened to AC/DC, Sabbath, Twisted Sister, Dio, Maiden, Priest and so on and so on. After this I learned about the wave of bay area thrash, new york scene and other U.S. power metal acts that struck me like lightning. But if I had to pick particular bands, then it would Metallica and Megadeth. Metal Blade records, Combat records, Roadrunner records etc. are still today my favorite labels from the 80's.
WC: Looking at the cover of “Speed and Violence”, you are obviously big fans of Exciter. Have you had any actual contact with them?
DP: Exciter for sure is a big influence, but the album cover wasn't supposed to be a tribute to any certain band, but just to promote heavy metal music itself. We haven't had any contact with them yet. Official Exciter tribute will be coming soon on Skol Records!
WC: I always thought there was a subtle difference between thrash metal and speed metal. Do you agree and if so, how would describe the difference?
DP: Speed Metal has more elements from Priest, Maiden, Sabbath and Rainbow, so there’s always a bit more melody while thrashing hard. Thrash is more violent and hectic. Of course we have elements from both.
WC: Finland has the reputation of being the most “metal” country in the world. Is that true and what’s the metal scene like there?
DP: Partly it is true, but the scene has too many idiots and hillbillies with their worship of Sabaton and other useless acts. In Helsinki it's pretty good actually with younger bands coming along!
WC: Have you had the opportunity to play any of the big festivals in Europe? What’s been your best experience so far?
DP: Yeah, only a few. Live Evil in London and Keep It True are the best.
WC:Have you had the opportunity to play with any of your musical heroes so far?
DP: Playing with Anvil has been a great experience! Honorable mentions would be Satan plus sharing the same stage in Metal festivals with Metal Church. Oh and playing some Motorhead songs with Alan Davey from Hawkwind was great!
WC: If someone said you play a “dated” style of music, how would you respond to them?
DP: Heavy Metal is forever. Classic Metal is never dated. You have other trends going and going, but metal is always here.
WC: Do you feel there is any room to experiment with Ranger’s style or are you pretty much locked into the sound of “Speed and Violence”?
DP: Whatever might sound good to us, we will use it. Never say never about doing something more! I think you will be surprised what might come from us in the future. Classic influences are there always, but you still learn a lot about music. Although no computers or other weird tech stuff. Vintage sound only!.
WC: In Finland there’s a lot of different kinds of metal? Do you have fans among the black and death metal hordes? Do all genres get along with each other?
DP: Black Metal is really popular in Finland. We do play sometimes festivals with black metal bands. Usually black/thrash/death dudes get along, but personally I got no interest in the modern metal scene or any corpse paint black metal dudes. I'm more from the streets and love to crank AC/DC and Anvil!
WC:I thought Ranger sounded a little like the great German band Iron Angel. Are you familiar with them?
DP: Sure we are. We do hear that a lot. Although we are more influenced by American bands, but “Hellish Crossfire”'s restless speed might be the one thing that you always hear in Ranger's music.
WC: Lyrically you seem to sing about fantasy and war subjects. Is there a deeper meaning to your lyrics?
DP: Well, yes and no. War lyrics are usually against those stupid wars that keep on going. Scifi, satanic/occult and metalized lyrics are fun, but you never know what might be influenced by next.
WC: Is there one Ranger song which stands out as your defining anthem?
DP: Yes, the song called “Ranger”, where we get our name from.
WC: Do you have any plans to play America someday?
DP: Yes we do! We have a lot of good connections now and we are trying to work things out and find out the way to do it properly!
WC: If you could open for any band, who would it be?
DP: Slayer and Exciter come to mind first. To be part of some other bigger tour would be optimal too.
WC: If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?
DP: Lars Ulrich (part of history), John Belushi and Tony Iommi.
WC: What was the last release you got just because you wanted to hear the band?
DP: Probably some Savage Master album and, Vulture's EP. Also bought some Jarre cassette tapes from the flea market.
WC: Any new Finnish acts we should be on the lookout for?
DP: Rapid, Legionnaire, Radux and Bourreau. I heard that Tyfon's Doom is great, but haven't had the time to listen to him (one man project).
WC: Have you ever had a “Spinal Tap” moment where things went crazy for the band?
DP: Haha, many times. Too many to mention, but these things when you don't find the stage has happened many times. I also remember Gatwick airport’s SWAT team asking questions about my bulletbelt right before a flight.
WC: Last thoughts or words?
DP: Speed and Violence over Europe right now, catch us on tour and buy the album! Catch you guys soon on US soil! See ya!