A good number of people go by the assumption that Speed Metal is an obsolete predecessor of both Power and Thrash Metal, which only really has any credibility when it’s revisited by established acts that tend either towards the mostly melodic proto-Power style put forth by JUDAS PRIEST and RIOT, or the proto-Thrash and more extreme oriented pioneers MOTORHEAD. The former style received a healthy renaissance with the rise of German acts such as PRIMAL FEAR, IRON SAVIOR and PARAGON, but something that doesn’t crossover into Thrash territory yet still emulates the more aggressive style of MOTORHEAD is a bit harder to come by.
One exception is the independent Speed Metal outfit CESSATION OF LIFE, who present an extremely catchy yet also fairly rough edged take on the style. Although occasionally resorting to epic devices such as a gloomy atmospheric acoustic instrumental in “Admitting” or the heavily MANILLA ROAD inspired “Untranquil Seas”, the bulk of this tends to be a brilliant marriage of MOTORHEAD style attitude with a sort of early METALLICA meets early SLAYER delivery. The riffs are fairly formulaic, though they do often come off as elaborate and well thought out, and ultimately avoid the rapid changeups and constant shifts in feel more common to the mid-80s Thrash scene.
Vocalist Chris Cronkite, who goes under the nickname “Violence” is definitely the main draw of this band’s overall sound. Whether he’s vocalizing lyrics about racing cars on “Hot Rod Heaven”, messing up fellow metal heads physically on “Murder In The Pit” or just going off on the sad state of the present day events on “The World Day, there is this sort of duality of Heavy Metal aggression and Punk attitude that naturally brings some comparisons to Lemmy Kilmister. But it should be noted that Cronkite’s voice often has a deeper and more guttural quality befitting a proto-Death Metal vocalist, while the before mentioned MOTORHEAD front man has a gravely and higher end style that won’t quite make your speakers hum in the same manner.
One of the principle complaints launched at the Speed Metal style is that it doesn’t vary enough, which is a flaw that this album does not suffer from in any respect. When you listen to “Murder In The Pit” and “Necropolis” there is definitely a heavy Death Metal tendency to it, despite the overall tonality not quite venturing into the morose territory mostly associated with the genre. “Reason To Live” is clearly cut from an early 80s NWOBHM style, contrasted by the almost purely Punk nature and simplicity of “The World Today”. The band clearly pays a notable homage to MANOWAR with the slightly “Fighting The World” oriented song “Hot Rod Heaven”, as well as invoke the bass shredding genius originally explored by Joey Demaio in the 2 minute or so bass solo “Ignorance And Apathy”.
If you’re looking for an unsigned alternative to the somewhat lackluster Thrash albums being put out over the past few years then this might be a good place to look. For an independent recording, it is reasonably well produced and also avoids the pompous overloud tendencies of a lot of established acts. The guitar work and bass work is extremely competent, and the songs are compact enough and free of unnecessary interludes and quiet sections to make for a smooth listening experience. Picture MOTORHEAD’s “Iron Fist” meets SLAYER’s “Show No Mercy” and you’ll be reasonably close to what this is.
(Online October 5, 2008)