[schema type=”review” name=”Gama Bomb – Speed Between the Lines” description=”Label: AFM Records” author=”Sarp Esin” pubdate=”2018-10-12″ ]
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard the name Gama Bomb being thrown around. This Irish thrash band has made quite a name for themselves in the metal circles and remained in the forefront (with their brethren) of what was arguably a thrash revival. Well, they are back after a three-year gap with Speed Between the Lines.
Let’s start with the most obvious: Gama Bomb play thrash metal. This means you will be hearing breakneck riffs played at high speeds, galloping rhythms, drums that just won’t stop pounding until you say “Uncle” and will continue even if you do, mean basslines woven into the fabric of the songs and of course, nigh-patented high-pitched vocals and rapid-fire vocal melodies. Throw in a blazing solo or four and you have the whole package of thrash metal – straight as a razor.
Therein lies the main main issue with this album. The performances are competent, the album is tightly structured, the production is decent… but it offers nothing of substance. There is nothing in Speed Between the Lines that I can’t get anywhere else. At the end of the day, it’s a thrash album. That’s it. There is nothing separating it from other thrash albums. If you know thrash metal, then you have heard this album, many times over. It’s not going to make or break thrash for you, nor is it likely to change your mind about Gama Bomb or others of their ilk. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, you know, if the album could present some type of quality that exceeded expectations or offered an unexpected turn that broke the tedium.
But it doesn’t.
On a related issue, the album is very repetitive. The galloping pace, the unrelenting skank beat snare (that is so damn fixed that Gene Hoglan wishes he could keep time like that,) the rapid-fire riffs, the high-pitched vocals, the gang shouts at every turn… it all gets very old, very quickly and you start wondering why you are listening to the same song for the umpteenth time, given that the album seems to be moving through the track list. The sheer lack of variety and dynamism throughout the album makes listening to song after song of the same thing a chore. This also eats into the memorability of the riffs, so the album leaves very little of an impression once it’s over.
Also and maybe worse still, the songs fall flat in the humor department. Sure, you can mildly smile at Kurt Russell and even sing along to it, but right afterwards you are thrust into an environmentalist whine (World Gone to Hell.) The “message” of the song is as ham-fisted, tired and useless. This also happens with the supposed “punch a Nazi” cringe-fest that is Alt-Reich… just look at that title (sooo edgy.) Gama Bomb regurgitating YouTube comment section-level politics doesn’t earn my respect, especially when the album’s fun-loving streak in songs like Bring Out the Monster fare much better. While you can have it both ways (be as serious as you are humorous,) this is not the way for that.
So, what do I think? I think Speed Between the Lines is uninteresting, unoriginal and unfunny. I think I can have my pick of any thrash album, Gama Bomb’s back catalogue included, and still get exactly what this album offers… except I might strike gold and get something a bit more than only that.
If you like thrash, give it a go. If you like Gama Bomb, go for it. If you are interested in thrash metal, then there are better albums for you to pick up.
Joe McGuigan – bass, vocals
Philly Bryne – vocals
Paul Caffrey – drums
Domo Dixon – lead guitars
John Roche – rhythm guitars
01. Give Me Leather
02. A Hanging
04. Bring Out the Monster
05. R.I.P. U
08. Stay Rotten
09. We R Going 2 Eat U
10. Kurt Russell
11. World Gone to Hell