Good thrash metal is a lot of things. It’s aggressive and combative. It’s in your face with the attitude. The music is bombastic and often extremely fun music to listen to. The best thrash should make you want to stand up for your rights, flip police cars, and take on authority figures. It’s really at its best when it’s stripped down with no frills. And for that, all hail Roadkiller.
Roadkiller is a brand new band from Philadelphia and the brainchild of singer and guitarist. She makes what can only be described as an aggressive mix of thrash metal and hardcore punk though I wouldn’t necessarily call it crossover. It really sounds like thrash metal going back to its roots of the late 70s and early 80s. Get on your studded bracelets and battle jackets, because this record’s gonna need you to hop on the back of its hog and blaze a trail down the highway.
For real, that’s what this record sounds like. There’s a drive and direction to each track. They are plowing forward with fervor and gusto. That’s really a credit to the drums. For a band’s first-ever recording, there’s a wonderful crispness to them and how they cut through the mix. They also rarely repeat themselves. For some folks, constant and unending blast beats can be unending with their repetition. It can even seem dull at a certain point if you’re always playing the same thing. That doesn’t happen here at all. It just gives each track a freshness and distinct quality that separate each song.
Similarly, the melodies give a very rough edge to all the songs. There’s an absolutely delectable crunch to the guitars. It’s distortion that’s a very pleasant grate the moshers crave. It’s like guitar strings being played with rusty nails. Combine that with chugging-style riffs, and you’ve got one heck of a sound.
What sticks out the most is the vocals. The vocals truly compliment the music with her satisfying tones. They’re sort of halfway between shouting and full-on singing. There’s a melodic quality to her voice that adds an extra texture to the tracks. However, it’s not so sing-songy that she sounds like she’s singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Think of it more as a rough lilt. I never thought a singer could create this kind of sound with the vocals, but Tank absolutely nails it.
Once you put all the meat into the grinder, it combines to create the soundtrack of metalhead biker heaven. The intro track “Zenobia” makes it perfectly clear that you need to either speed up or get the hell out of the way. The driving drums and palm-muted power chords evoke images of late 70s and early 80s hard edge rockin’. It’s such a wonderfully produced old school sound reminding you of equal parts Motörhead and Sex Pistols with its musicianship, songwriting, and attitude. If you’re a metal and punk fan, you’re gonna like what Tank puts between your ears.
For a first recording, this is a damn fine introduction. Roadkiller really does combine the best of both punk and thrash metal. The raw belligerence and rebelliousness of the sound brings out your inner studded jacket biker warrior. I imagine this as what the guitarist in Mad Max: Fury Road wished he could’ve written for riding the wastelands in search of gasoline and adventure. It’s a quick 5 track record, but it’s well worth the minor time investment. I very much look forward to hearing more from Roadkiller and preferably soon.