(Eat Metal 2016)
There are so many good bands from Greece. Ordinarily, I think of Hellas as a hotbed of epic metal or USPM-influenced stuff, but this release from Speedrush demonstrates the Greeks’ proficiency at good old-fashioned speed metal. Formed in Athens more than a decade ago, Speedrush have recently released their debut album, ‘Endless War,’ via Eat Metal Records. The band’s slogan is, “We spit on those who choose to pose, we thrash with all the rest.” Speedrush play relentlessly fast, unapologetically old-school speed metal, without any pretense of originality or modern influences. They have a socially/ politically aware streak to them too; indeed, track 6 entitled “The Truth” is simply an 87-second excerpt from the famous “we deal in illusions” speech lifted from the 1976 film ‘Network,’ in which the Mad Prophet of the Airwaves denounced the citizenry’s obsession/addiction/mindless acceptance of what they hear and see on television, and implored everyone to turn off their TVs right now. The words rang true 40 years ago, and remain so today (although perhaps the words “television” and “the tube” could be replaced with “the Internet” or “the Web”). But at their core, Speedrush are dyed-in-the-wool metalheads. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the beginning of track 8, “Reprisal Steel,” in which one voice proclaims “Not everyone likes metal” and another voice shouts back, “F**k them!” Aye, these are gents after my own heart!
Based on the above, you’d be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that Speedrush are another faceless rethrash act. You’d also be wrong. This ‘Endless War’ album rips, and it feels much more like a speed/thrash hybrid than a boring retro thrash knockoff. By that I mean, the blindingly fast riffs of Tasos P and Nick Ratman have melody, and the snarling vocals of Nir Beer (haha, that stage name brings back all sorts of memories of the swill we used to drink in college that we called “near beer” because its ABV was just 3.2%) have character and aren’t simply a nondescript bark. In several of the tunes (such as “Malevolent Torture” and “Into the Abyss”), I detect a pronounced (and very welcome) early Destruction influence, not only in the Schmier-like vocals but also the killer Mike Sifringer-style guitar parts, you know, like the ones he did on the ‘Infernal Overkill’ and ‘Eternal Devastation’ albums. Overall, though, I enjoy Speedrush in much the same way as I enjoy bands like Seax. Their albums are compact, concise, fast as hell, and addictively catchy. You don’t really listen to them to key on specific songs; instead, you just absorb and feed off the energy. That said, there are standout tracks, most notably “Freaks of Nature,” with the memorable catchphrase “So now you know who the real freaks are.” And Speedrush get extra credit for the unexpected tasteful clean guitar break they placed smack in the middle of the high-velocity neck-snapper “Passive Aggression.” Classy.
‘Endless War’ may not revolutionize your world, but it’s hard to imagine any devotee of thrash/speed metal not getting a kick out of this album. At seven proper songs (plus intro and “The Truth” intermezzo) and 33 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Instead, Speedrush break down your door, kick your ass, raid all the beer from your refrigerator, trash your living room, and vanish into the night before you ever figure out what hit you. We could all use a bit more of that in our lives, right?
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~