Ramming Speed – Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die
Boston and the surrounding areas are like America’s Sweden when it comes to extreme music output, spawning such modern-day heavyweights as Revocation, Converge and The Red Chord, and Ramming Speed are yet another great band hailing from this utopia of heavy metal brilliance. Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die is the second full-length from these Boston natives, and it is a vicious juxtaposition of punk rock attitude, thrash metal riffs and grindcore ferocity, executed perhaps unlike any other album before it. Ramming Speed manage to cohesively blend elements from each of these beloved genres and invent and a style of crossover all their own. Each of the 13 tracks manage to sit at or below the three minute mark in short, chaotic bursts of thrash-grind frenzy, save for the surprisingly epic “Hollow Giants“, which showcases an acoustic interlude and a slower tempo in what is surely meant to be the sole breather in the pack. Cuts such as “Grinding Dissent”, “Cretins and Cowards”, and “Ashes” strike the balance between thrash gallops and grind blasts almost perfectly, while others, such as “Anthems of Despair” and the “Raining Blood“-esque chug of “Ministry of Truth“, are much more straightforward crossover/ thrash tunes. The songs do start to blend together after a few listens, but it’s still a great record to turn on when freeform jazz passages and atmospheric interludes just don’t sound good. Top the whole package off with a signature production job by the one and only Kurt Ballou, and Ramming Speed have crafted an album that’s bound to turn a few heads.
Noisem – Agony Defined
Speaking of turning heads, the debut album from Baltimore’s Noisem is a fantastic homage to the forefathers of thrash and death metal, calling to mind the lightning fast accuracy of Slayer crossed with the grimy chaos of Repulsion. These guys clearly grew up on a steady diet of each of these bands and their contemporaries, and it wouldn’t be surprising if somebody listening to this album for the first time thought they had stumbled across a long-lost gem from that era. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, Agony Defined is a no-holds barred assault on the senses, demanding a limber neck and supple limbs to flail about, all the while wearing a patch-infested jean jacket. Everything, from the decidedly old-school production, to the Kerry King pinch harmonics and the over-the-top speed of each song is a spot-on replication of a late 80’s metal record, and a good one at that. At the time, Agony Defined likely would have sat proudly between Horrified and Raining Blood, and although nothing found on this record is groundbreaking by today’s standards, it doesn’t need to be. Admittedly, some of the riffs sound like recycled Slayer riffs and are used more than once throughout the duration of the record, but that’s the point. The sick minds of Noisem have simply created a tribute album to their idols, and it is one that the late Jeff Hanneman would no doubt approve of, repetitive as it may be.
Power Trip – Manifest Decimation
Dallas, Texas’ Power Trip rounds out this Rapidfire thrash trio, and they’ve released the most impressive album of these three in the form of their full-length debut, Manifest Decimation. Equal parts the crossover stylings of D.R.I. as they are the sharp groove of Exodus, Power Trip are right at home yet still somewhat of an anomaly amongst the primarily “Entombedcore” roster that Southern Lord have become known for. Speaking of Entombed, the production on Manifest Decimation is ripe with an almost overwhelming amount of reverb, giving it that old-school sound found on classic records such as Left Hand Path, but it is actually a perfect compliment to the thick crunch of the guitars, and adds a welcome element of eeriness not present on many thrash records these days. There is a surprising lack of solos for a thrash record, the band opting to instead devote their energy to the grooves and riffs as opposed to showmanship, and Manifest Decimation feels like a stronger record for it. Power Trip have also done a great job of not making a predictable thrash record; that is, the riffs don’t feel recycled and old. The breakdowns in “Heretic’s Fork” and “The Hammer of Doubt” are unexpected twists from the typical single-note chugging, and “Crossbreaker” is arguably the strongest track on the album, kicking off with a simple drum and bass groove before breaking into one of the catchiest riffs of the year. Catchy is a good way to describe Manifest Decimation; vocalist Riley Gale’s bellows are easy to scream along to, and the songs stick with you. As good of an album as Manifest Decimation is, it feels too short, and could have benefitted had the band added a few more tracks. Regardless, it’s worth checking out, as there’s not a lot here that metalheads won’t love.