Style: Speed Metal
Release Date: 5 Apr 2019
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While I've happily been listening to a whole slew of recent thrash albums, many of which I've really enjoyed, it's been notable that thrash generally doesn't seem to be quite as fast as it used to be. I've been aching for an old school speed metal band that just slays the way their predecessors did back in the mid eighties and I haven't found one yet.
Well, now I have. After a brief intro, Rituals showed that Seax immediately were as close as I've come. Then Killed by Speed came on and I was grinning like a maniac. And then Bring Down the Beast made it a surety. This is what I've been waiting for and, while there may not be a better song anywhere to be found on this album, Seax continue to kick ass all the way to the very last track, the appropriately titled Born to Live Fast.
Now, as you may have noticed already, originality isn't particularly high on Seax's priority list, even though this is their fourth full length album. We get to Born to Live Fast via Interceptor, Winds of Atomic Death and Legions Arise, songs I'm sure I've seen on Razor albums of a few decades ago. Or were they Exciter albums? Maybe Living Death albums. I know all these titles have to have been used by other bands multiple times.
I'm pretty sure they weren't Agent Steel albums, a name that leapt quickly to mind after hearing Carmine Blades's voice for the first time. He's not quite as distinctive as the late John Cyriis but he does have fun trying to hit the same high notes and he really ought to stand out in 2019. Given how everyone seems to include some degree of death growls in their vocals, I'm really happy to hear someone who doesn't give a monkey's and will sear the sky with high pitched clean vocals that don't sound like Rob Halford.
Regardless of originality, Seax knows precisely how to blister and they do it throughout this album. Slow parts are for wimps! This starts out in high gear and spends forty minutes trying to figure out what's above that. They may well have a super-high gear because, every time I think they've reached maximum speed, they give it a little more gas and, sure enough, they have a little more ready in reserve. This one really does frickin' go to eleven.
As long as you can discount that lack of originality, there isn't a single duff track on this album. What's more, while every one of them is played at ludicrous speed, the tracks do delineate themselves through quality riffs, time changes and vocal melodies. Winds of Atomic Death isn't Legions Arise and neither of them are Feed the Reaper.
I think what impressed me most wasn't just that they play speed the way it was always intended to be played, but they clearly know their stuff. There may be a lot of Agent Steel here, but that's far from all. I heard a lot of German bands here too, especially early Destruction but Iron Angel too. I'm unsure as to how old the band members are, though Seax have been around for a decade and everyone in it has played in multiple other bands. If they weren't around in the mid eighties, they must have admirable record collections.
I'm seeing conflicting information as to who's actually in the band at the moment, but it looks like Hel and Razzle are behind the twin guitar assault that dominates this album while Derek Jay tries to keep up on drums. They do test him something rotten but he comes through apparently unscathed. This is definitely not 1984 Sodom; he keeps up! With Carmine Blades on vocals, that leaves the bass player to identify and that may or may not be Mike Bones. Whoever it is, he's audible because this album has a decent mix. It's great to hear a bassist's fingers dance all over the fretboard on Born to Live Fast.
This week has brought some blistering bands to my attention. Obscura Qalma got an 8/10 yesterday. I think Seax deserve the same because this is easily the best speed metal album I've heard in a long time. And I'm still in two minds about upping Cocaine Wolves to an 8 too, though I haven't done it yet. Those three bands are completely different in style and influence, but they all kick ass and take names and I'd love to see every one of them on stage. And I still have a Friday to go...