It could be argued that, for a while, Raging Speedhorn could have been regarded as one of the “also rans” of the heavy metal scene. Breaking ground with their use of two vocalists – a combination extremely hard to work effectively effectively, especially in the hardcore subgenre – the band pummelled their way out of their native Northants at the turn of the millennium, releasing four albums in seven years before suddenly announcing that they were mysteriously calling it a day, playing their “farewell” shows back in the early part of 2008… But, in November 2014 they resurfaced, at the Damnation Festival, with original vocalists John Loughlin and Frank Regan reunited. Now, a little more than a year and a half on from that historic night, RS have re-emerged into the cold dark of day with this, their first new studio album in nine years.
And the result will both please and surprise. This latter point is emphasized in the album’s dark feel, which comes to the fore right from the off with the dense, crunching riff of ‘Bring Out Your Dead’: the traditional hardcore edge is still there, especially in the acerbic upper end of twin guitarists Jim Palmer and Jamie Thompson’s downstroking and the thump of Dave Thompson’s bass, but there is a much darker undercurrent which hints at what is to come later in the album.
‘Halfway To Hell’ is another blend of classic hardcore and old school doom, with the twin vocals cutting in their acidity and the heavy bass underpinning the song in a way which gives it a deep sense of forbidding. ‘Motörhead’, by its very title, is an obvious tribute to the late Lemmy, and is a grindcore-infused slice of punky anarchy which races along at a pell-mell pace but also, like many of the other songs, hints a deeper sense of regret and loss which helps to energize the album as a whole.
‘Evil Or Mental’ is the first track to truly hint at the darker road which the band explore as the album progresses, bringing in as it does a heavy doom vibe which matches yet counterpoints the sharpness of the main riff. The epic and dramatic ‘Ten Of Swords’ sees them ease back on the speed but not the intensity: in fact, it’s the opposite in regard to the latter, as there’s a choking claustrophobia to the track, especially in the depressive riff and strangulating vice of the vocal delivery.
‘Dogshit Blues’ takes the album into its second half with a renewed ferocity, battering through the speakers with a fury that will definitely open up some pretty insane pits during their forthcoming run of live dates (see below for details). ‘Hangman’ is another densely intense slice of darkness, with a broiling, winding main riff wrapped around a thoroughly dank bass line and an anguished vocal which often disappears, intentionally, into the overall mix before re-emerging defiant and angrier than before. ‘Shit Outta Luck’ is typically angry, fuck you style hardcore, delivered with convincing integrity and fury, while ‘Coming Home’ is a clear declaration of intent from a band who are back on their home turf and laying the shit very much on their own terms.
It is closer ‘Unleash The Serpent’, however, which is the most surprising track on the album. It is dense and hypnotic, and a pure slice of sludge-crusted doom that contrasts yet complements what has gone before in a way which summarizes and evokes the deep, underlying current of darkness which underpins this magnificent – and, in many ways, unexpected, return…
Tracklist: Bring Out Your Dead / Halfway To Hell / Motörhead / Evil Or Mental / Ten Of Swords / Dogshit Blues / Hangman / Shit Outta Luck / Coming Home / Unleash The Serpent
‘Lost Ritual’ is released Friday (15 July), the same day on which Raging Speedhorn kick off a nine-date tour:
Friday 15 July – Colchester, Arts Centre
Saturday 16 July – Cardiff, Fuel Rock Club (NOTE: Change of venue, existing tickets valid)
Sunday 17 July – Liverpool, Arts Club Loft
Monday 18 July – Glasgow, o2 ABC 2
Tuesday 19 July – Leeds, Key Club
Wednesday 20 July – Birmingham, o2 Academy 3
Thursday 21 July – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
Friday 22 July – Oxford, The Wheatsheaf
Saturday 23 July – London, The Underworld
Support on the above dates comes from Stoneghost and By Any Means. RS then visit the island of Ireland for the following shows:
Saturday 17 September – Dublin, On The Rox
Sunday 18 September – Belfast, Voodoo