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Raging Speedhorn - Hard To Kill review


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Band: Raging Speedhorn
Album: Hard To Kill
Release date: October 2020

01. Snakebite
02. Doom Machine
03. Spitfire
04. Hard To Kill
05. Hammer Down
06. Hand Of God
07. Brutality
08. The Best
09. Children Of The Revolution [T. Rex cover]

Still raging after all these years.

Corby's servants of sludge Raging Speedhorn return with their 6th outing Hard To Kill, an aptly titled album from a band who have gone through break-ups and, most recently, the loss of several members, including a founding member, but continue on. A band who have always floated on the periphery and gained their recognition through putting in the miles, Raging Speedhorn produce a record is easily their best since their self-titled debut twenty years ago.

For those of you who are not familiar with these rabble rousers, Raging Speedhorn are a group of sludge metallers who are powered by a hardcore/crust punk energy and specialize in bludgeoning listeners rather than producing anything of beauty. Their first forays at the turn of the millennium produced some nu metal-tinged minor hits in "Thumper" and "Gusher" as they pushed along as the bridesmaid, never the bride. Having broken up and reformed, their last release Lost Ritual (their first since reuniting) was an album that put their name back out there but little else. Since then, all bar one vocalist and the drummer have left and been replaced, leaving Hard To Kill to be a statement of intent.

History lesson over and back to the matter at hand, Hard To Kill is an album that gets down to brass tacks quickly, hitting you with the two main weapons in the band's arsenal, upbeat and straightforward metallic powerhouses and mid-paced doomy sludge behemoths. This contrast in styles keeps the album fresh and injects much-needed power every so often, though the band lean much more on the sludge numbers for the duration of the record, with only three out and out upbeat numbers in the opening "Snakebite", "Brutality" and the title track "Hard To Kill".

It is to the benefit of listeners then that the band produce some great sludge numbers throughout this record in "Hammerdown" and "The Beast" that melt the skin off your face. The band find strong middle ground between droning, lumbering lower tempo tracks with a level of energy that fits the tempo to a tee whilst also giving the song enough muscle to kick your ass.

While the band are not the most original band in the doom scene and do wear their influences on their sleeves, they at least make a compelling regurgitation of those they take their notes from. If you are looking for a record that looks to move the genre forward, then Hard To Kill won't satisfy you, as it instead submerges itself deep into the genre from whence it came. The one time the band tries something new in "Children Of The Revolution", (a sludge metal version of a T-Rex track is not something I was expecting) ends up being the weakest track on the album, falling into the pitfall of merely adding heavier instrumentation to the original in an uninspired take on the song.

The departure of Laughlin is felt on the record; while Cook does an admirable job filling his shoes, Laughlin's shadow looms large over the album. The vocal tag team of Regan and Cook is one that needs time to settle, here sounding like the two play it safe rather than pushing each other to produce vocal patterns and delivery styles that would elevate many of these tracks. "Doom Machine" is a good example of this; neither do anything wrong per se, but neither do anything exciting and fresh.

The rest of the band settle in well, allowing a smooth transition from Lost Ritual before you delve deeper and realize they are not the same musicians. While they lack an identity of their own, they nail the Raging Speedhorn sound, which has been freshened up with a cleaner and less gritty sound in 2020. What it lacks in personality and tone, it makes up for in clean unadulterated sludge.

Hard To Kill is an enjoyable record, a worthy addition to the Raging Speedhorn catalogue and one that those unfamiliar with the band would do well to use as a jumping in point. While the album plays it safe, that doesn't mean it doesn't play it well: a solid record and one that will likely be used as a calling card for the band moving forward.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 7

Written on 07.11.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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