Ramming Speed

Brainwreck

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Back in the '80s, thrash metal/speed metal and hardcore both represented a fusion of metal and punk. But they went about it in different ways. While thrash brought punk into metal, the early hardcore bands brought metal into punk. The Boston-based Ramming Speed have been labeled a retro-thrash band, but those who listen to 2009's Brainwreck in its entirety could easily argue that Ramming Speed's '80s-obsessed attack has as much to do with hardcore (of the pre-metalcore variety) as it does with thrash. The lightning-speed guitar solos shred in a way that is clearly thrash-minded, but there is a crazed, damaged, nervous recklessness on this album that recalls early hardcore and the loud, angry American punk bands that had a major influence on it (such as Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and the Germs). And even though most of the vocals on Brainwreck are hardcore-style vocals, one occasionally encounters some death metal-ish Cookie Monster growling as well. Hardcore, of course, has evolved a lot since the '80s -- and the 2000s were full of vicious metalcore bands as well as bands embracing the more melodic screamo/post-hardcore style. But this 29-minute CD has nothing to do with either metalcore or screamo. Ramming Speed's high-speed thrash/hardcore assault is very much an exercise in '80s worship, and their infectiousness reminds listeners how fun things became when the metal and punk camps formed an alliance during that decade (after having been bitter rivals in the late '70s). Brainwreck doesn't pretend to be even remotely groundbreaking, but it's still an engaging, worthwhile listen if one holds '80s thrash metal/speed metal and '80s hardcore in equally high regard.

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