Ah, speed… Some of us are built for it; some of us have a need for it. And way back some thirty years ago, it was one of the most important criteria by which a metal band was measured.
Guitarist Hel rips through plenty of cross-picked near-thrashing, tossing off frantic solos with a casually gleeful abandon, and drummer Derek Jay somehow keeps the whole affair on the rails while careening forward with maniacal energy. On the positive, Fallout Rituals’ nine tracks are a uniformly infectious lot, although truthfully most of them could be trimmed by about a minute or so, just to keep everything moving past at an even greater clip. Gang-vocal choruses provide shout-along hooks to the likes of “Born To Live Fast,” “Rituals,” “Feed The Reaper,” and “Killed By Speed.” The formula is well established — decades old even — but Seax has enough spirit and skill to keep the old tricks interesting.
As with so many albums of this ilk, the biggest hurdle to overcome is the vocal. Carmine Blades alternates between a semi-snarling midrange and lung-searing shrieks, flipping between the two within the same line at times, and any enjoyment of Fallout Rituals (or any lack thereof) is therefore very dependent upon the listener’s ability (or willingness) to handle those soaring falsetto jumps. Nevertheless, to these ears, Blades’ slightly unhinged performance—more Kai Hansen than Dan Beehler—adds a nice balancing touch to the proceedings, keeping Seax just a few steps over the line from thrash and squarely in the true speed metal camp.
At the end of the day, Seax is wearing their influences loudly and proudly upon their sleeves (or more likely, upon patches on their back), but at least, they’ve got the spark and the talent to stand on their own, plying a sound that’s heavily indebted to the masters and yet bringing enough gusto to pull it off. Fallout Rituals isn’t going to break new ground, but it’s a very fun way to spend a half-hour.
Turn it up, put the pedal down, feel the wind in your hair, and live fast, for a little while, at least…