At the time of its release four years back Lost Ritual had our appetite for Raging Speedhorn’s voracious metal sounds at their greediest by far. A longstanding but maybe not quite dedicated relish for their intensive roars was suddenly thrust into lustful appreciation but fair to say even that has been overshadowed by our captivation with the band’s new full-length, Hard To Kill.
The sixth studio album from the Corby outfit is an unshakeable fury of sound and enterprise, a sonic beast of creative adventure and savage delivery from a band which after undergoing extensive line-up changes since their last album echo the heart and intent of its new tempest’s title. Hard To Kill sees founding members, co-vocalist Frank Regan and drummer Gordon Morison, and guitarist Jim Palmer joined by new vocalist Dan Cook, who replaced long-standing co-frontman John Loughlin after he left during the recording of the album, guitarist Dave Leese and former Hundred Reasons bassist Andy Gilmour. They are changes which seem to have ignited a new energy and intensity in the band and a sense of imposing mischief in their sound. That previous album was a certain pinnacle yet Hard To Kill has overshadowed its creative achievements in varying degrees.
From the first breath of opener Snakebite, that familiar Raging Speedhorn sound and presence overwhelms, vocal threat and arousal the spark to a ride of ravenous riffs and just as hungry rhythms all bound in ear gripping grooves. As vocals scorch the hairs within ears, punk and metal unite is a tempestuous contagion, the track a cyclone of discontent and aural manipulation infesting every pore. It is prime Raging Speedhorn with a new freshness and force of temptation, a swift clue of what is to come if not of the album’s variety within the band’s recognisable creative provocation.
The sludge bred inclinations in their sound swamp next up Doom Machine, grooves a nest of infectious vipers writing around the dark machinery of the track. Within it, Gilmour’s bass prowls with a swing which quickly burrowed under the skin, bait only escalated by the fertile swings of Morison and the infernal grooves shaping the captivation before Spitfire bears its own heavy doomy magnetism upon the senses. It too is a trespass bearing the fruits of cantankerous attitude and infectious design, every imposing aspect a beckon and each scathing breath a feral seduction to its grooved hardcore tainted metal maelstrom.
The album’s title track is pure unbridled incitement, from its opening rhythmic rally surrounded in another swarm of essential grooving the song leapt upon and burrowed deep under the skin, its subsequent charge and following bass led saunter instant addiction. Twist and turns only escalated its potency and slavery, punk, metal and grooved rock ‘n’ roll all massing in a virulent persuasion which Hammer Down immediately fed upon with its crawling gait and rapacious almost primal breath. Ursine and intimidating yet again inescapable seduction through senses searing grooves, the track only tightened the album’s grip on ears, every second of aural antipathy a carnal trespass of temptation.
Another nagging earworm comes in the shape of Hand Of God, its senses terrorising harassment as fearsome as it is irresistible especially as the guitars enticingly temper the vocal and rhythmic menace with their grooved webbing while Brutality with a similarly bred template but wholly individual persecution summoned just as eager physical and emotional subservience. Both tracks epitomise the fertile traits which have persistently fuelled acclaim and success the way of Raging Speedhorn whilst revelling in the blossoming of imaginative seeds first sown in the last album.
Everything about The Beast lives up to its title, the outstanding track a stalking slab of untamed barbarous sludge metal with the guitars of Palmer and Leese bloodthirstily winding wires around ears yet coaxing unshakeable willingness to be devoured by their feral and melodic flirtation. The vocal victimisation from Regan and Cook is just as dual sided, every syllable and breath shared raw animus but cored by a compelling catchiness which consumes any resistance.
Completed by a fine if not exactly startling cover of Children Of The Revolution, the band not ripping apart the T-Rex classic as maybe suspected or hoped but still thoroughly enjoyed, the Russ Russell (Napalm Death, At The Gates) recorded Hard To Kill is a momentous wodge of ferocious Raging Speedhorn goodness. Some expectations are fed and tides of surprise are found in something very easy to once more declare their new finest moment.
Hard To Kill is out now via Red Weed Records on vinyl, CD, download and all streaming platforms including https://ragingspeedhorn.bandcamp.com/album/hard-to-kill
Pete RingMaster 06/11/2020