I quite liked VIKING SKULL (the now defunct Stoner Metal side-project featuring a few of this band) but I must admit that I’m a bit unfamiliar with their main band RAGING SPEEDHORN – I’ve read about them here and there and heard the odd track on the radio but I’ve never sat down and really listened to any of their previous albums, mainly because they seemed like just another modern Screamo-type band that Kerrang! readers would wet their baggy pants over. Well, here I sit with a promo copy of their latest album, “Before The Sea Was Built”, and after a few spins my preconceived notions were unfortunately proven to be true. But with that being said there is more than a few solid tracks on here that lifts this album just a tad above most of the dross of their peers.
For the most part this album can be classified as Screamo but there are also strong elements of Sludge, Doom and old-school Punk present that gives the songs a bit of grit and much-needed atmosphere. Tracks like “Melody Stripper” and “Born To Twist The Knife” (great chorus here) are great pieces of modern Metal/Screamo that showcase a subtle sense of melody (check out the underlying riffs in the opening minutes of the former track), and a surprisingly harsh sneered vocal approach that really is not that far removed from bands like NEUROSIS and TODAY IS THE DAY. Speaking of TODAY IS THE DAY, the gloomy Sludge-ridden crunch of “Sound Of Waves” is a perfect tribute to Steve Austin’s project. A more melodic Doom aesthetic can be found in “Who Will Guard The Guards” which serves as an effective counterpoint to the more frenzied Screamo moments on the album, while “Too Drunk To Give A Fuck” rocks out in a fuzzy Punk fashion akin to BAD RELIGION. These are the stand-out moments of the album where the band conjures up a potent sense of song-craft that relies more on a straightforward yet atmospheric riff-based crunch as opposed to the annoying bouncy rubbish that is so common of bands like these. If they only focused solely on the abovementioned riff/rock out approach then this would’ve been a very good contemporary Metal album but unfortunately this album is bogged down by a fair share of incoherent filler (“Mishima”, “The Last Comet From Nothingness”, “Everything Changes”). This sucks because many of the tracks on here prove that these bunch can write a solid track or two once they get their act in order.
The album is very short, only about 29 minutes, but I must admit that it turned out better than I expected. Well, I didn’t actually expect anything from this album, so any worthwhile moment on here is a bonus. Not bad, but they need to write more tracks like “Born To Twist The Knife” and “Who Will Guard The Guards” on their next album if they wish to make a bigger mark on the scene.
A friendly tip seeing as how they are on SPV: more Metal, less core boys!
(Online August 25, 2007)