The framework for speed metal was founded in the whiskey-soaked throat of Ian Fraser Kilmister back in the mid-70s. His bass slung around his left shoulder, picking quickly the classic blues patterns that made rock and roll into a tour de force. His voice: gritty, packed with emotion and bristling with a vivacity for life. To say Motörhead was influential and changed the game, or even laid the entire groundwork for what would turn into thrash and speed metal, would all be an understatement. Their impact was global and immediate.
Climbing atop their steel ponies, revving the engine with the fury of Exciter and the sharpness of Razor (well, maybe a razor), Speedclaw shred their vicious speed metal in an homage to one of the global giants, Motörhead.
Label: Shadow Kingdom.
For their second EP, Speedclaw has ditched the Croatian songs, which, even if you don’t speak Croatian, is kind of a bummer. It was something that certainly made them stand out above the heap of colorful cassettes being bandied about for $3 on Bandcamp. “Beast in the Mist” seems to be something of a remake of “Mistress of the Night” from their first EP, so it’s a good talking point. The added reverb on the vocals help the ends of each word not feel dropped in an unnatural manner and the production that allows the guitars to punch through the speaker cabinets with knife-sharp riffs is a welcome addition. Furthermore, the addition of delineated pace changes has brought more texture to the compositional landscape, making for a much more diverse and entrancing listen, even with the longer song length.
At just under 30 minutes, and lacking a cover, Beast in the Mist has roughly 11 more original minutes of material than Iron Speed, and they use ever second of it to show that they have arrived on the speed metal scene to make their mark. The solos (particularly in the aforementioned title track) as well as the harmonized guitars (“Faster than Hell”) help to add some depth, awareness, and intrigue to Speedclaw’s previously somewhat generic speed metal. “Aggression Strikes” is their fastest track to date, tearing out of the intro riff into classic bass-snare thrash beat. One of two songs around the four-minute mark, it balances the faster intro with a more direct verse. The faster pacing also supports more than one ripping solo that is handled with surprising grace by whichever Luka (there are two) happens to be the lead guitarist.
The final track, “Evil That You See,” which is inexplicably mastered at a significantly higher volume than the rest of the album (at least on the promo we received), is a more swinging affair. Moderately paced, the song features some blistering solos over much faster bridge sections. Showing excellent pick control combined with supreme care for melody, the solos, while not innovative, are enough to make the cut seams on your jean jacket vest stand at attention. Given the predilection and mastery of acoustic guitar that accompanies the “Prelude,” it would have been nice to have some sort of fade out or epilogue area where the acoustic instruments that opened the EP close the chapter. This is less of a complaint than a wish for more.
Yeah, there aren’t any sick musical barriers being broken here. But what you get in abundance is a bunch of solid speed metal full of blistering solos, ripping bridges and some aggressive, Lemmy-inspired vocals. If you have a Camaro or a fat hog, or just dream of owning either, you should play this album with your fingerless, leather driving gloves on and fist pump at the moon. Speedclaw is here to claw you out of that pit of despair.