Raging Speedhorn
Lost Ritual

You could regard me in many ways. I assume the standard way is that I am a boring ugly fat idiot. But you could also regard me as lucky. I tend to take “time off” from peering into the corners of the metalverse while I try to get my ugly fat idiotic life in order. As such I miss huge swathes of trendwhoring and the attendant and equally obnoxious trendkilling.

So I am hearing this Raging Speedhorn record with the ears of a naïf. I don’t know with certainty if they were once viewed as trendy and then hateful, though rumors persist. I just get to listen to the album as it is, and draw my conclusions as I will. I don’t have to go watch their old videos – though, disastrously, after the fact, I have – nor ask around what my peers think of the band’s earlier career – though again, after the fact, I have.

I have because I feel duty-bound to do my due diligence. But I have to admit, the effort feels insipid to me, and does not change my opinion of the record. Perhaps this is as it ought to be. Or perhaps it just shows how removed I am from the middle-class of metal fandom.

I like this record. I do not love it, but I don’t hate it, either. Sometimes I think this record is fantastic. Sometimes I think it is…derivative and without much heart. But I did not once find myself thinking it sucked. It is on the mid-to-slow end of the speed spectrum, and the power-chord-rather-than-riff end as well. It is beat heavy and metalcore-ish sometimes, but others it is surprisingly deep and moving. And now and then it is downright sludgetastically headbanging.

You will not find a lot of virtuosity here, of course, so based on tracks like “Motorhead” or “Shit Outa Luck” you may be given to think this is just douchey brometal for douchey bros. It can be, but with tracks like “Ten of Swords” and “The Hangman” the band sheds the Fonzy leather jacket and builds almost Burnt By the Sun style crushers. Of course they never quite match the sublime musicianship and psychotic riffing of Burnt, playing it closer to the hardcore vest. But the energy and weight is there, and that is not something to dismiss lightly.

There are some creatively interesting decisions in a few tracks, such as the end sludge of “Halfway To Hell”, where a good southern riff starts a moshy march. And the closer, “Unleash the Serpent” literally feels like a different, almost doomy band, though its success is doubtful. But it does break the sound up, and shows a band working at exploring with their sound, if nothing else.

I can’t say the dual vocalist shtick comes off as anything more than a gimmick, but I can’t hear much difference between the two, so it feels unimportant to the quality of the record. Instead it just feels like the average shout/scream vocalist for these types of acts. Loving old NYHC as I do, the ganged chorus shouts don’t bother me.

The production is suitably large, not that there is much the mix needs to delineate here, but brick to the face is all you want, sometimes. It sounded very good on the factory-installed stereo in my car, and on my cute little subwoofered computer speakers. It was fine on my phones.

The takeaway, then, is that I think this record is worth the average metal fan’s ear, at least to decide for yourself if they should get your cash. There is some real meat on the bones here. There is also a lot of fat and gristle. And if you are bringing preconceptions with you, the positives may not be enough to overcome them. But I had none, and I enjoyed the album as it is. Again, though, I think it behooves you to give it a decent chance.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Sessions
June 17th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: SludgeHammer

    I had no idea these guys were back together, nor that they had such a tainted reputation. I was a big fan of their first album but never kept up with them. Great review, I’m going to check this out, even if just for nostalgiac purposes.


  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    the “boring ugly fat idiot” made me laugh aloud.


  3. Commented by: Jay

    Great read and very entertaining review Chris! Had me in stitches too.

    These guys often got called the nu-metal boys of sludge. I never felt that way and thought everything up to and including “How the Great Have Fallen” was some kick ass stuff.

    They went out on a pretty bad note with the boring, post-rock snoozefest of “Before the Sea was Built.” I’ll give it a check!


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