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PINERIPPER's Summer Singles a 1-2 Punch Impossible To Ignore

By Will Yannacoulias

After taking June off, I'm happy to return to the North Sask Music Zine by diving into the two new singles from PINERIPPER, a five piece metal outfit from Moosomin SK. Vocalist Kent Ko, guitarists Mike Strandlund and Derek Gray, drummer Bryce Williams and bass player Spencer Dowling introduced themselves to the larger Sask scene in May with their debut "Hell is a Long Way Home". The debut was joined this week by "Cut Teeth", making for an impressive one-two punch that has proven impossible to ignore. I chatted with the guys about the band, the self-produced singles, their influences and their plans for the summer.

Stradlund and Grey are longtime friends and collaborators, having constantly played and written together for over a decade in various projects. Ko was invited to join as a vocalist in 2019 and found immediate chemistry with the two guitarists. Ko had been bandmates in an earlier project with Williams and recommended him as a drummer, thus the core of PINERIPPER was formed. The four dove immediately into songwriting and planned to begin recording with Grey serving double duty until a bass player could be found. Ironically PINERIPPER found their perfect bass player in the most unlikely of places: "Derek went looking for a better bass guitar to track with" the band shared. "While standing around waiting for the e-transfer to clear, he got to talking with the seller about what kinds of music he liked, his history playing in bands, and if he'd be interested in joining a local metal band." The seller of the second hand bass, Spencer Dowling, ended up trying out to play for PINERIPPER just as the pandemic started. "Spencer was a perfect fit. As a five piece we kept jamming, writing, and recording songs until things reopened last summer" they recalled. The five piece emerged from isolation with a full set of original material, going on to impress audiences in Regina and a few packed small town venues in 2022.

PINERIPPER describe themselves proudly as Saskatchewan Sludge, and have demonstrated a flexible songwriting style that isn't easy to nail down to a single genre. "Our individual influences overlap the most with bands like Down, Pantera, and Testament" the band told NSMZ. That Pantera influence shines on "Hell is a Long Way Home", effortlessly moving back and forth between a jackhammer thrash and a groovy crawl, crowned with Ko's empassioned, venomous vocal delivery. "'Hell is a Long Way Home' was chosen as our first release because it's fast, heavy, in-your-face, and gives a good representation of PINERIPPER" they shared.

"Cut Teeth" takes the listener in a bit of a different musical direction, still heavy and groovy but with a slightly cleaner and more ambitious vocal delivery and a dramatic, instantly memorable seventies style riff Tony Iommi himself would be proud of. Sounding very much like a bluesy stoner metal jam that just got heavier and heavier as they rehearsed it, "Cut Teeth" shows PINERIPPER's range and makes me even more excited to hear the unreleased music to come. "'Cutting Teeth is about grinding away at something you know you were meant to do" the band explained, "giving it your fucking all so that in your last moments you know you left nothing on the table."

One more single, "Mortal", is scheduled for release this summer before the debut LP drops this fall. "Hell is a Long Way Home" and "Cut Teeth" are available on all streaming services. Follow the band on their socials or at for videos, live photos and news of upcoming releases.

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