From the brutally vintage cover, you’d be entirely justified expecting Speed and Violence to be a homage to the glory days of Exciter, being as they shamelessly appropriated the cover dynamic of their first album and riffed on the title of their second and best known platter (Violence and Force). While you’d be 110% right about the 80s throwback style Ranger wallows in, you’d be wrong about the chief influence. In lieu of the expected Exciter worship, you get massive adoration of early Razor with a fair amount of Agent Steel love mixed in for shit and giggles. Yep, it’s classic 80s speed metal all day long for these Finns, and it’s every bit as sloppy and silly as you’d expect, while also being more dated than a pet rock. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a ton o’ fun though, and that’s what Ranger seems determined to provide – mindless metal amusement ripped from the past with no regulator on the overkill switch.
If the over the top, hyperactive mania of the opening title track doesn’t take you back to the days of “Evil Invaders” and “Taken By Force,” you must be be under 40, and that’s okay, I guess. For everyone else it’s like a transfusion with motor oil, warm Zima and mercury. The core of the sound is pure Razor and vocalist Dimi even rocks the same high-pitched shrieks and wails as the immortal Stace “Sheepdog” McLaren. The chorus is so lowbrow it couldn’t start a fire with a flamethrower, but damn if it isn’t metal as fooking fook. And the wild and wooly dual guitar attack and frenzied harmonies are a thing of ugly beauty, reminding me a bit of Holy Terror as they ride off the rails of moderation and good taste.
The remainder of Speed and Violence delivers just as much rowdy romping, done with conviction and a true sense of the 80s sound and ethos. “Without Warning” has a ripping pace mixed with NWoBHM hooks and the gang-shouted chorus is plenty feisty. “Lethal Force” could have appeared on Agent Steel‘s debut and “Shock Troops” has a chorus more metal that the Statue of Liberty yet there’s nary a brain-cell involved. Big, dumb and trve, this stuff is.
At a tight 35 minutes, Speed flies by in an over-caffeinated eye spasm, and at no point is it anything but old school fun and fury. The sound is surprisingly good as well, managing to sound low-tech and unhinged without a smashed or bricked mix. It’s tinny and trebly, but that was the 80s, so it follows closely to the beloved source material.
The entirety of the album is like a WWE cage-match between the vocals and guitars, each striving for undisputed global domination. The riffs are basically NWoBHM surplus sped up to unrecognizable pacing by Mikael Haavisto and Ville Valtonen, and while this could grow stale quickly, their over-commitment to sheer mayhem makes it a total blast to spin. It’s corybantic riff after riff broken up by classic harmonies and lunatic fret-board abuse come solo time, almost approaching a parody of metal itself. Keeping up with the chaos, Dimi squeals, snarls and screams his little heart out, never once uttering a nuanced word. His ear-piercing screams are a marvel and recall the heyday of Jon Cyriis (Agent Steel). He’s a credit to his denim vest and out-of-print patches and this stuff would be far less effective without his berserk caterwauling.
Speed and Violence takes what Ranger did on their raucous Where Evil Dwells debut and pushes all the knobs to 12. If you crave subtlety, progression or polish in your metal, get off well before this bus stop. This is music for the chronically hyperactive, tasteless, toothless retro-mongers, and as dumb as it is, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Speed, sped, spud.