by Brian Krasman (Mead, Meat, Metal)
It’s always great when a band whose members bust their asses on a regular basis are rewarded for their efforts and get to move up in the world. The sad thing is, that doesn’t happen often enough, and there are so many times when I get press releases from labels about fresh signings that just baffle my mind. Can you stop signing garbage?
But then there are stories like Boston’s Ramming Speed, a band that’s been plying their trade of crossover thrash for almost a decade now (they started life as Despotic Robot in 2005 with an EP containing some of the best song titles I’ve read all time, all my life) and put out quality brutality for labels such as Tankcrimes and Teenage Disco Bloodbath. Luckily for the band, and for everyone else, Prosthetic Records came along, liked what they heard, and added them to the label’s constantly evolving roster of artists, and their first effort for their new home (and second full-length overall) “Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die” is a portrait of a band finding their way into a slightly expanded sound, better production, and a whole new world of potential admirers.
Now, don’t fret when you hear talk of their sound expanding, because it’s not like they’ve written any radio hits. Instead, they merely stretch out their thrash, hardcore, and NWOBHM tendencies a little further to make things roomier so you have more terrain to bash people’s skulls. This band remains relentless, energetic, and brutal enough to get your eyes blackened at one of their shows, and the improved production (courtesy of the great Kurt Ballou) merely highlights their strengths and gives even more explosive life to their sound. “Doomed to Destroy” is a really great-sounding album, and it’ll be a mighty introduction to those not yet aware of this hard-hitting quintet.
The band’s lineup has been intact for a couple years now, after some changes in 2011, and they sound like they’ve fully realized the weight of their sound. Pete Gallagher is the guy screaming at you, alternating from shriek to muddy growl, while guitarists Kallen Bliss and Blake Chuffskin, bassist Ben Banoogen, and drummer Jonah Livingston round out this steady lineup. If you’re into bands such as Toxic Holocaust or the recently reviewed Noisem and Power Trip, chances are you’re going to like this record and will spend hours letting it compromise your hearing.
The record opens with the title track, and to be honest, it’s not the strongest song of the bunch and had my guard up the first time I heard it a few weeks ago. Gallagher’s vocals sometimes get a little too close to a metalcore growl, and it’s not a terribly imaginative song. But it gets better, as “Anticipating Failure” has some nice ’80s-style sleaze riffs, shouting vocals, and some cool lead guitar play that gets the album down the road to fun. “Grinding Dissident” is heavy and crunchy, with gruffer vocals and more impressive guitar interplay from Bliss and Chuffskin. “Gorgon’s Eye” is an impressive dose of classic thrash and thunder, and it’s one of my favorite cuts on the record. “Cretins and Cowards” keeps the momentum going with fury and more violent tendencies than we hear on the record to this point. “Anthems of Despair” pulls back into classic metal again, with guitar work that sounds inspired by Iron Maiden, while “Ashes” is chunky, catchy, and something at which you can shout back.
“Ministry of Truth” chugs and stomps, and like we’ve heard elsewhere, there are more strong dual guitar lines that run headlong into bursts of speed. “The Rhetoric of Hate and Other Examples of Wildly Unchecked Ignorance” not only is a song perfectly titled for some of the shit going on in our country this month, but it mangles and blasts you until you can take no more. “Extinction Event” mixes old-school punk and hardcore into their sound and completely flattens everything in front of it. “Under the Monolith” injects a little Southern rock filth into things, with strong soloing and more commanding vocals from Gallagher. “Hollow Giants” throws a curveball as it opens with acoustic guitar strains before it slides into a slow-driving tempo, and it feels sort of misplaced on the record. It brings the momentum to a halt, and it might have worked better as a closer or somewhere in the middle when you need a breather. Nonetheless, “Dead Flags” gives the album a ripping conclusion with blasts, thrash charging, and raspy screaming.
Hopefully Ramming Speed will see some positive returns from their association with Prosthetic, and “Doomed to Destroy” is a pretty impressive first effort for the label. There are some things that need tightened, and it’s not a perfect album, but Ramming Speed make a positive, crushing impression and should bring their noise to even more people.