Raging Speedhorn – Hard to Kill Review

Raging Speedhorn. Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. A long time. And to be honest, I didn’t really expect to hear it again but it would seem it’s pretty Hard to Kill this six-piece from Corby in the UK. I first came across Raging Speedhorn when they opened the main stage at Ozzfest in Milton Keynes in 2001. I am almost certain that I saw them again at some point and, after conferring with one of my best mates, I think this may have been a rather unlikely-seeming slot opening for The Dillinger Escape Plan sometime around 2002 or 2003. I hadn’t thought about them since then until a few weeks back, when Holdeneye alerted me to the fact that we had received the promo for Hard to Kill and asked whether, as the only person to ever reference Raging Speedhorn on the blog, I was interested. Hell, why not. Everyone likes a bit of nostalgiacore, right?

Back when I used to listen to them, almost two decades ago, Raging Speedhorn played hardcore-influenced nu-metal, majoring in chunky, downtuned riffs, thrumming bass lines and two vocalists — one of whom, Frank Regan (also of Viking Skull), is still with the band — both churning out harsh growls, bellows and shouts1. I rather assumed that, after their 2002 sophomore effort, the boys had hung up their instruments and perhaps gone to work in Corby’s steelworks, about the only thing the midlands town is known for. But no, as it transpires, Hard to Kill is their sixth(!) full-length and they have migrated their style somewhat since I last dropped in. The Raging Speedhorn of 2020 plays what I will choose to call sludge ‘n’ roll.

Opener “Snakebite” kicks off almost immediately with an insistent, churning heavy metal riff, pounding drums and chunky bass, as Regan and new co-vocalist Daniel Cook launch themselves out of the starting blocks with a demented dual attack, playing off each other. Far more varied than I remember their early work, it would seem Raging Speedhorn now include Clutch among their influences, with an almost bluesy stoner vibe to “Doom Machine,” while the touches of Iron Monkey (“Hand of God”) and, to a lesser extent, Soilent Green are also on show. Across Hard to Kill, there is a real dirty groove to proceedings that new bassist Andy Gilmour has no small hand in, particularly on the relentless title track. This gives Raging Speedhorn an energy and sense of fun that, having gone back to their first couple of albums over the course of my time with Hard to Kill, was missing from their early days.

At a crisp 31 minutes, Hard to Kill romps along with the dual guitars laying down chugging hard rock riffs, with a sludgy edge to them. Raging Speedhorn are not doing anything revolutionary here, nor are they poets2 but they don’t set out to be either. Hard to Kill’s sludge ‘n’ roll is simplistic and straightforward, sure, but it’s also kinda charming. Until, that is, the final track when someone decided it would be a good idea to do a cover of “Children of the Revolution.” It was not a good idea. It was a fucking dreadful idea and that is for two reasons. First, the cover itself is awful — just laughably terrible, the over-produced ‘clean’ vocals being a particular low — and, secondly, putting it as the closing track of the album finishes what is otherwise a fun, if unremarkable, record on a really low note.

There is nothing to complain about in terms of the production (apart from the effects on the vocals on “Children of the Revolution”). Recorded with Ross Russell, whose previous producing credits include the likes of At the Gates and Napalm Death, Hard to Kill has a big sound, with full, rounded guitars, rumbling bass, pounding drums and just enough of an edge to the vocals to give it some teeth. Sometimes you just want an easy, rollicking good time with a record and that’s principally what Hard to Kill delivers. Did Raging Speedhorn trigger some nostalgia in me? Sure. Did I enjoy my time with Hard to Kill? Mostly. Is it going to stay with me though? Probably not. Can I forgive Raging Speedhorn for that “Children of the Revolution” cover? Absolutely not.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Red Weed Records
Websites: ragingspeedhorn.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ragingspeedhorn
Releases Worldwide: October 23rd, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Go check out “Necrophiliac Glue Sniffer” and the “The Gush” for a quick ‘horn 101
  2. As lines like “I’ll this say only once and I’ll make myself clear, act like a man and bring it over here” (“Spitefire”) make clear.
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