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Ramming Speed - "Brainwreck" (CD)

Ramming Speed - "Brainwreck" CD cover image

"Brainwreck" track listing:

1. Speed Trials
2. The Threat...
3. Lazer Assault
4. All In All
5. Shane Embury Is the Brad Pitt of Grindcore
6. Bogus Facade
7. Sound the Alarm
8. Immigrant Song
9. Political Party
10. Man Vs. Machine
11. Arrested Development
12. A Modern Myth
13. Heavy Metal Thunder

Reviewed by on March 4, 2009

"Listeners will be amazed at the density of these songs, five of which aren't even two minutes long."

There are a lot of adjectives used to describe thrash metal - fast, loud, and brutal come to mind most often. Two that don't often show up, at least not together, are funny and clever. Not since Scatterbrain scattered, have I heard a metal album that mixed humor, intelligence and whiplash thrash together as well as Ramming Speed's "Brainwreck."

In the same way S.O.D.'s "Speak English Or Die" tickled my funny bone while breaking my neck back in the day, "Brainwreck" had me smiling from the moment I saw that the first song was appropriately called "Speed Trials."

Even thrash's biggest fans have to admit there's something gloriously absurd about playing everything at breakneck speed, and that absurdity is gleefully reflected in the words of "Shane Embury is the Brad Pitt of Grindcore," in which lead vocalist Pete "Za" Gallagher sings, "Your calluses rip as your fingers are set ablaze. The riffs speed past like the ghosts of hell."

It isn't all fun and games in the lyrics, though, as Gallagher sings that "no man deserves to fight for a country that doesn't give a fuck if he lives or dies," in "All in All."

The best song on the album, both lyrically and instrumentally, is "Political Party," which decries the apathy of many in the metal community, with Gallagher screaming that "just because I'm a thrasher shouldn't be an excuse to ignore the problems of the world." At the same time, he turns the song's title into a pun, pointing out that "brews don't contradict my beliefs."

Gallagher blends death metal growls with punk rock shouts in ways that, though they're not exactly melodic, complement the carefully controlled chaos the rest of the band lays down. Listeners will be amazed at the density of these songs, five of which aren't even two minutes long.

Guitarists Ricky Zampa and Kallen Bliss, bassist Derek Cloonan, and drummer Jonah Livingston are to be commended for their ability to cram riffs, solos and time changes into such small packages without making them seem awkward.

The only time the album slows down just a smidgen is on the last track, "Heavy Metal Thunder," which is a little over five and a half minutes long. But hey, any tune that references a line from "Born To Be Wild" while also conjuring images of Norse thunder god Thor by way of Marvel Comics is still OK in my book. One thing I particularly enjoyed is the way each song leads into the next, with no breathing room between them. It definitely leads to a sense of the album being a cohesive whole.

In "Brainwreck," the members of Ramming Speed have created a modern-day thrash masterpiece with a wicked sense of humor. The only real quibble I have with this album is that I wanted it to go on longer than its 29 minutes.

Highs: The party anthem with a message, "Political Party;" the humorous lyrics of "Shane Embury is the Brad Pitt of Grindcore."

Lows: The album's a bit on the short side.

Bottom line: One of the best, and most humorous hardcore thrash albums since S.O.D. told us to "Speak English Or Die."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)