A horrible hack


Straight Shooter

Year Released: 2015
Format: CD
Label: Svart
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Mar 16, 2016
Pickslide, whippet-quick drum fill, guitar solo, piercing vocal high note: yes, speed metal is on the menu and SPEEDTRAP are going to make you eat it. They gained a second guitarist between their first album and this one, and the record is saturated with little solos and licks sneaked into every corner. Opener "No glory found" soaks speed metal in dirty rock'n'roll savour, for a ZEKE meets EXCITER kind of sound. "Torches ablaze" mixes in more classic NWOBHM phrasing, singer Jori Sara-Aho reaching for some flamboyant high register vocal lines. Cracking song, although let down by the holding pattern the guitar riffs sink into in the third quarter of the song. After this forceful entrance to the record SPEEDTRAP slow things down a little to allow more swagger into the rhythms. Again, they pair a rock'n'roll influenced cut with one that has more of a classic metal feel. "Running rampant" moves towards AC/DC sort of speeds, probably the catchiest song on the record. The rousing wails in the chorus demand horned tribute.* "Eyes for conquest" evokes Rob Halford in the way the vocal lines navigate the song structure, but doesn't have strong enough ideas to justify a near 6 minute running time.

Some of the lyrics use martial themes and fantasies of dominance ("Why choose the fate of lesser men / I seek to ride where sabers sing" "Nothing but rock hard authority / Nothing to challenge my tenacity / Never to betray, losers got no say") and these contrast interestingly with the aggrieved numbers about being oppressed or there being a glorious future in contrast to the shitty present ("I'm spilling disdain / It's all too much to contain / All the crooks are running rampant / Got no repentance / We're the ones who serve their sentence" "Iron plates provide me sanctuary / Shielded by tainted sorceries / Fend off the blows that spell my demise / I feel my burden double in size") - as if he's quite a crotchety sort of guy underneath the battle metaphors. I wish it sounded as though he were having more fun with it.

"Serve your masters" is a blast of blurred-fingered double-picked palm muting and intricate little guitar ideas interlocking perfectly. It's followed by the single "Straight shooter", another slower song that as the album's single has reportedly caused outbreaks of leather trousers and Johnnie Walker all over eastern Finland. Catchy as hell, solos for days and an excellent showcase for Sara-Aho's vocals, combining raw Brian Johnson-style rasp with stratospheric high notes. "Savage the prey" shows off the precision of the drumming as the band tighten the screw for the fastest song in the set - fiery, but perhaps bleeding out some of the song's interest in the attempt to end on an energetic note.

SPEEDTRAP are now looking for a new singer - Sari-Aho played his last gig with them in mid January. Hope the rest of the band can carry on, because they're a tightly-honed unit that have a definite knack for marrying raw speed and technique to songs and choruses that stick in your head. Damn, this must be awesome live.

* m/ !!!

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