Undoubtedly one of the UK’s finest bands of the last two decades, it was a sad day when Corby’s Raging Speedhorn threw in the towel back in 2008. A 10 year career spent wrecking venues across the UK, Europe and Japan -bruised, battered and carrying the mantle of the mighty Iron Monkey into the 00’s – had taken its toll but there was always that feeling that the beast would rear its head once again. Fast forward to 2014 and the Speedhorn were back, in the live environment at least, and 2 years later new album Lost Ritual arrives, reminding the world why they remain one of the most vital sludge bands in existence.
It’s surprising how with just one listen of this outstanding album, it feels like John Loughlin, Frank Regan (returning to the fold for the first time since 2005’s underrated How the Great Have Fallen) and the boys never went away. Their dual vocal attack is as remorseless as ever and with an arsenal of Sabbathian riffs at their disposal, the hit rate on Lost Ritual is second to none.
The opening combo of “Bring Out your Dead” and “Halfway To Hell” is as good as anything the guys have ever written. Catchier than ever, heavier than ever, the two tracks can sit proudly alongside Speedhorn classics “Thumper”, “The Hate Song” and “The Gush”. Supporting a leaden doomy atmosphere, both songs swap speed for sludge at will and demonstrate a true knack for writing pit-igniting anthems designed to desecrate venues. Raging Speedhorn’s live shows have just improved 100% by their mere existence!
From here things just get faster as the band shift up a gear on “Motorhead”, which could be an ode to the new series of Top Gear (though probably not, eh), a homage to Lemmy’s seminal band and/or simply a paean to simply driving very, very fast. Either way, the speed and dirty greased up nature of this pedal-to-the-metal riff-fest perfectly suits the lyrical content, showcasing a playful side to a band known more for their bruising than their cruising. Not that they’ve gone soft in their older age, the truly fantastic “Evil Or Mental” unleashing that untameable, barely restrained violence that made them such a thrilling proposition on their debut.
Unsurprisingly, Lost Ritual becomes steadily more demented and unglued as it develops. Sludgier grooves and ever more abrasive rhythms descend as the band embrace a sense of madness hitherto unheard of; they’ve never sounded so welcomingly evil for want of a better description.
Closing monster, “Unleash The Serpent” is the heaviest thing these foul bastards have ever written and it’s akin to dragging your sweaty, bloated carcass through the thickest, foulest slurry while the breathy tones and anguished screams of Mike Patton rain saliva down on your weather-beaten face. An experimental diversion into horror-sludge (a new sub-genre?), Raging Speedhorn have never sounded so terrifyingly unhinged and “Unleash The Serpent” is the perfect way to end a virtually perfect comeback.
Mental, definitely mental. 9/10