Friday, 20 September 2013

#304 Ramming Speed - Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die

On a general level, party thrash seems to have outlived its welcome to some extent, at least as far as many are concerned. I, for one, continue to like it occasionally, but there is, by all accounts, something of a staleness to it now, with only the thrash bands which managed to create something interesting surviving in the critical eye. To survive, you need to adapt, and Ramming Speed, whatever anyone expected their second full length record to sound like, have certainly been dipped in the glowing green goop, and emerged as a truly mutated creature.

Ramming Speed might have been a party thrash band once, but judging by their new record; "Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die" they've either stopped going to parties, or the parties have become a lot more violent. The record appears to be the sonic equivalent of a party where everyone takes a hearty dose of PCP and spends the evening juggling sledgehammers. With the exception perhaps of Black Breath, I don't think I've ever heard a thrash or crossover album which leapt at me quite so viciously from the onset - the guitar tone is thick, and crushing. You don't tend to get many crushing thrash albums, so this certainly scores points from the very beginning, and is, in fact, reconciled really well with the conventional thrash elements. It's good to see a band dropping the traditional thrash production values and instead making something which is, tonally, insane. The thick rumble of the guitars is at times truly cavernous, and generally gives the riffs the punch of an anti-tank sabot. Stylistically, the record is also a step away from the thrash conventions of today; much more crossover oriented, and indeed, extreme; boasting a range of harsh vocals and plenty of sections reminiscent of grindcore and death metal, which creates a truly eclectic, but at the same time cohesive and coherent record. Likewise, however, the band haven't neglected to make the record fun, too. Many of the riffs are genuinely bouncy, memorable and, indeed, could probably be enjoyed alongside a beer. To call this music party thrash, though, would suggest that your parties are a little bit out there; I've seldom heard a thrash record which oozed with such extremity - while many thrash bands create music which demands a hazardous materials suit, Ramming Speed are the sort of nuclear waste to burn right through it.

Variety, along with extremity, is one of the crowning features of the record - simply put, there is a lot going on. In fitting with the crossover influences, of course, most of it is delivered in three-minute-or-less packages. Not that I'm complaining - the album throws thirteen tracks at you, and none of them feel like filler, with everything from more conventional thrash tracks with chugging, beer-swigging riffs, right through to guttural roaring, d-beats and blasting. The d-beats especially really push the right buttons, as, if you'll pardon my language, I fucking love d-beats; the greasy, deliceous-when-drunk kebab-meat of the drum and percussion world. The contrast between the soaring riffs and the down-and-dirty d-beat orgies certainly gives the album two faces, but at the same time, creates a contrast which is decidedly enjoyable to listen to. Another great feature of the record, while we're at it, is the use of melody and depth. Escaping from the unfortunate "look at all this open string chugging" paradigm which modern thrash has inadvertently trapped itself in,  Ramming Speed create riffs which feel full and healthy, with penty of melody, full sound, and even really well constructed solos, another thing which is often missing these days. From the crushing assaults to the galloping, rip-roaring sections, the riffs feel, for want of a more metal word, very hearty and substantial. In fact, substantial is probably the best descriptor to attatch to what Ramming Speed have done with this record; they've made no-nonsense crossover into something far more substantial than many of their thrash-revival peer group might have even dreamed possible. It sounds, in short, solid as a rock.

This, I can safely say, is one of the good records to be spawned by the last decades re-found love of thrash, and while many artists lose momentum, and fall pray to generic composition and disinterested listeners, this band, as their name suggests, are still roaring towards the opposition at Ramming Speed, and long may it last.

This is an 8/10.

Ramming Speed on Bandcamp
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Ramming Speed on Metal Archives