You all know this lot, and if you don’t, shame on you. Raging Speedhorn are one of the most iconic bands of the 2000’s, up there with the likes of Stampin’ Ground for intense live performances and hard hitting, no fuck given metal. The six headed sludge beast from the inhospitable realm of Corby were a staple feature of the UK Metal and live scene for a number of years before they parted ways, but thankfully, in 2014 the gang got back together, playing a series of blistering shows and reminding everyone that they’re back and they mean business. After four stunning sludge filled albums and the curtain being drawn on them in 2008, it’s time to reacquaint ourselves with the hate mob and take part in this lost ritual.
With an unsettling and ominous feel, “Bring Out Your Dead” reacquaints us with the six headed beast from the northern reaches of England. With some thunderous bass and unsettling riff work, the track begins its slow and muddy advance through the sludge it spews forth. The iconic twin vocal attack helps pile on the audio pressure as it launches forth into a steady and controlled wave of intensity, sounding every bit as pissed off as we always remember them being. Even the middle section which ups the power and impact of the delivery and track is controlled, something which is a word and state you would not normally associate with a band like RSH but they manage it with frighteningly good and thunderous results!
“Halfway To Hell” on the other hand is exactly how I remember the band sounding. Faster paced, louder and with more of a kick to the track, this classic slice of sludge laden groove and aggression really storms forwards. With big riffs, big bass, raw as hell screamed vocals laden with venom and a simple but highly infectious hook, the verse charges on and the easy enough to remember chorus explodes to life, no doubt something to ignite an already volatile crowd into screaming along to it. The more stoner-doom friendly final run has a very loose Sabbath kind of vibe to it with some real intense vocal work, serving as a brief reprieve as the extremely bass heavy section rumbles on and it wraps the track up nicely.
“Motorhead” follows in the footsteps of the previous track, coming out the blocks fast with a hook laden, infectious and raw groove laden riff. Harshly spat vocals sit perfectly over the thick sound and the adrenaline pumping chorus really grips hold of you, making you want to move whether you want it to or not. The lyrical content mirrors the high octane feel of the track, pushing the track hard and fast like any speed machine based anthem would and the big epic gang vocal ending works like a charm. “Evil Or Mental” slows things back down with the more doom laden feel, bringing in a very Weedeater like sound. Dirty, massive and sweet, the murky low register riffery really comes off as something completely massive sounding. Harsh vocals as always serve as the focal point, but the Southern States styled stoner/doom/sludge sound is just too good to overlook, no doubt leading to plenty of headbanging action the moment the riffs hit your ears. The big bass riff towards the middle of the track serves as a great build up moment for the powerful final run and the track effortlessly rolls into the following one with no fuss at all.
“Ten Of Swords” is much like the tarot card it is based off of in the terms said card in the minor arcana section of the 78 card deck symbolises an utter, total and despair filled crushing defeat. Much like the card symbolises the end and grave misfortune, the track hits with the same impact. The riffs to put it bluntly are fucking monumental in size and sound. Like a lumbering prehistoric beast, it plods along, shaking the ground with every kick of the bass drum and low note of the bassline and when you add in the two headed vocals delivered with so much venom in them, you cannot help but be overwhelmed by this sludge colossus.
“Dogshit Blues” brings back the pace and groove. Thunderous delivery, a solid rhythmic hook and some real anger all combine to bring a track which wouldn’t feel out of place on the band’s iconic first and second albums. With that classic Speedhorn feel, the track just tears ahead with no fucks given. Whether it’s the high tempo first half or the massive sounding Sabbathian sounding breakdown with its hypnotic headbanging riff, the track just pummels away with no remorse at all. “The Hangman” slows it back down again to the muddy feel and sluggish pace style of delivery, smashing away with big, thick distortion coated riffs and thunderous basslines which rumble with anger under the scathing lyrical delivery and under normal circumstances, this change of pace would be a reprieve from the intensity, but this is Speedhorn, there is no such thing as a reprieve. Be it the crushing heaviness of the verse or the evil and chilling whispered breakdown towards the end of the track, it’s 100% intensity.
“Shit Outta Luck” rolls in with a subtle quick riff under the ringing feedback from the previous track and before you even realise it has started, the fast paced track has you pinned against the wall by the throat. Squeezing tightly with the heavy groove and quicker pace, the angry track demands you ‘stand up and be counted for what the fuck its worth’. With it’s straight to the point message, one which could mirror the future of the UK given recent political events, it lays out what fate awaits us all – we’re shit out of luck! Even when it switches up to the more ‘bouncy’ sounding section in the later parts of the track, it still retains that venomous power and delivery. The guitars sound less murky but the scathing twin-vocal approach just gets harsher, repeatedly reminding us just how fucked we all are. “Comin’ Home” slows things back to the slower, stereotypical stoner-sludge feel. Steady paced and thunderous, it simply rolls on with no fuss, giving a great headbanging feel with the punchy riffs and booming bassline providing a solid foundation for the business as usual like vocals which get a little more lively towards the end of the track.
“Unleash the Serpent” closes the album and is the longest track of the release. With its ominous sounding fuzz laden guitar riff intro droning away, it brings with it a sense of unease and anticipation of something malevolent lurking. The thick bassline and sinister vocal line lead to the full explosion of intensity as the thundering delivery rings out, bringing with it a sense of familiarity in the way of sounding similar to the legendary sludge band Mistress. With a similar hate-filled outlook and tone of resentment radiating from this closing effort, it shows just how powerful Speedhorn are, proving they can deliver the goods whether it is the fast paced intensity or the crushingly slow heaviness.
Overall, this album is fantastic. With the classic line up from the first two albums back in place and sounding like they haven’t missed a single beat in years, Speedhorn have produced a fine piece of sludge metal and reminded everyone that they are back and they mean business. “Lost Ritual” is a fierce reminder of what the UK offers on the sludge metal scene and all the NOLA style sounding bands best take note, this is sludge which comes from a pitiful and meaningless country. Bleak, misery laden and full of resentment for everyone and everything, perhaps the old ways of British Metal Masterpieces being created in a hopeless situation have been brought back.