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Spellcaster - "Spells of Speed" (CD/EP)

Spellcaster - "Spells of Speed" CD/EP cover image

"Spells of Speed" track listing:

1. Chainsaw Champion
2. Locked On
3. Spellcaster
4. Chainsaw Champion (live)
5. Power Rising (live)

Reviewed by on September 26, 2010

"Spellcaster's 'Spells of Speed' will leave old-school thrash fans spellbound. It's loud, fast and fun, with attitude to spare."

For a child of the '80s like me, there's nothing like a solid thrash riff with a Halford-ian scream over the top of it. Luckily, that's just what begins "Chainsaw Champion," the lead-off track of Portland, Oregon-based bashers Spellcaster's debut EP "Spells of Speed."

Intended as a sampler of what the band's forthcoming full-length album will bring, this EP has me absolutely salivating for it — well, at least the three studio tracks do. Other than showing that the band has the chops to carry off its tunes in front of an audience, the two live tracks — including a second crack at "Chainsaw Champion" — feel pretty tacked on.

Basically, if you're a fan of old-school thrash along the lines of Slayer and Anthrax, you're going to love this EP. Guitarists Tyler Loney and Cory Boyd expertly race along at light speed, with superb solos in "Chainsaw Champion," which features a great chugging chorus a la Anthrax — and when singer Thomas Adams growls "he's coming for you," it'll send old-school shivers down your spine. "Locked On" is another solid song, with drummer Shad Covert giving a great but not too flashy performance.

The weakest of the three studio tracks is the band's anthem, "Spellcaster," which has a beginning that will feel familiar to anyone who's ever heard "Am I Evil?". When it picks up speed, it works a bit better, though it's still not as great as "Chainsaw Champion" or "Locked On."

The sound quality on the live tracks is, quite frankly, terrible. I did enjoy some of Adams' interaction with the crowd and the tight-but-loose style the band showed off, but not enough that I'm likely to make it a point to listen to either of them again.

Spellcaster's "Spells of Speed" will leave old-school thrash fans spellbound. It's loud, fast and fun, with attitude to spare. It's definitely got me waiting for the band's full-length debut, which will likely be released in early 2011.

Highs: "Chainsaw Champion" and "Locked On."

Lows: The two live tracks don't add much.

Bottom line: A fun '80s-style thrasher that will have genre fans lining up for the band's full-length debut.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)