Sometimes, you just want something straightforward. As good as the latest multi-part, prog-influenced opus can be, sometimes you just want riffs; no fancy time signatures, no polyrhythms or atonality, just big, dirty, huge fucking RIFFS. Bands like Raging Speedhorn exist to fulfil that desire. Even when they initially emerged around the turn of the millennium, their brand of nu-metal was more riff-heavy that most. So, it was no surprise that they gradually morphed into something much closer to hardcore and sludge, their music full of bad attitude, bad vibes, and (natural born) killer riffs.
Latest album Hard to Kill is, if anything, a more aggressive record than previous album Lost Ritual. That album felt like a re-affirming of purpose and identity from a band who had been such a visible part of the UK underground, seemingly supporting every international metal band that toured the UK around 2000. Hard to Kill feels less weighted by expectation than Lost Ritual did, feeling looser and more agile even as it hurls around skyscraper-sized riffs. It’s the sound of a band who genuinely love what they’re doing and are having fun doing it.
Which is a good thing really, as there is absolutely nothing original or challenging here. That’s not intended as a slight. There’s only so far you can push the boundaries of this type of sludge/hardcore hybrid before it becomes something else unrecognisable, and Raging Speedhorn are very much sticking to the genre rules on Hard to Kill. The riffs can have their DNA traced back to Black Sabbath via Iron Monkey and Eyehategod; the vocals a classic dual assault with the two vocalists trading off one another; the rhythms keeping things moving forward in irresistible hardcore style, with more than a touch of Motorhead-esque rock’n’roll swagger to it all. Songs like ‘Spitfire’, ‘Brutality’, and ‘Doom Machine’ do exactly what you’d expect them to from the titles. Does Hard to Kill expand upon what the genre can do? No. Is it fun? Abso-fucking-lutely.
And that is the point of a band and album like this. Raging Speedhorn aren’t here to challenge you artistically. They’re here to deliver riff after riff after riff; sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes even faster. They’re here to make the listener feel good and powerful. More than anything, they’re here as a reminder of just how thrilling and fun loud riffs and ugly vocals can be, and they deliver those thrills in spades. Even the cover of T.Rex’s ‘Children of the Revolution’ is played pretty straight and sounds all the better for it.
Given how ubiquitous they seemed to be for a good while on the touring circuit, it is easy among UK metal fans of a certain age to take Raging Speedhorn for granted, even after they split and later reformed. Hard to Kill is a reminder of why doing so is a mistake. This is an ode to the sheer joys of metal, made by a band who are having a great time.
Hard To Kill is out via Red Weed Records on October 23rd and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain