In giving the keys to the underground to the largely self-obsessed, tactless millennial crowd the hope is that their treatment of the old ways is exactly as vapid, ballsy and drug-addled as generations previous. The trouble with exiting Plato’s cave into the world of classic speed metal comes with the supposition that progress means introspection rather than reckless abandon. The spirit of speed metal is alive far beyond the cocaine and amphetamine influenced post-NWOBHM seizures of classic heavy metal and functions as a ‘retro’-fitted voice for just a few questionably disenfranchised hobbyists; Yet I’m not so sure the Xanax choked Instagram dolts cruising through the turbulence of the 2010’s haven’t permanently muted the poetic abilities of our youth before they begin to look to the past for musical inspiration. Far from jaded and not above cynical exploitation the rabidly percussive speed metal of Outline (ex-Demona) is a fresh snort of 80’s hell by way of Chilean export Constanza Díaz and Ohio speed metal warrior J. Hammer.
This duo of musicians co-conspire their own small revival that straddles a thin line between resembling a nostalgic glimpse of speed metal and actually providing it. What do classic speed metal albums like Running Wild‘s ‘Gates to Purgatory’, Exciter‘s ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ and Acid‘s ‘Maniac’ all have in common? I know you’re going to go straight to the guitar work because that -is- metal at it’s heart but outrageous vocalists are what has kept speed metal on the map; Outline hold some greater interest by virtue of the vocals of The Speed (Tanza Díaz) and not their desultory guitar work. Díaz‘ vocals are fiery and untamed in their off-key ambitions and simple melodies borrowed from the best of the US/German 80’s heavy metal underground and this inch of personality is the draw that’ll pull folks back in for a few listens. She’s not really on the level of Anne Boleyn (Hellion) or Kate de Lombaert (Acid) in terms of technical performance but makes up for it with a Misfits-era Danzig aplomb.
Although I was very impressed with Hammr‘s debut LP earlier this year I fear the skin-deep oversimplification of speed metal found on ‘Fire Whiplash’ unable to cohere into more than a few anthemic choruses. Knowing J. Hammer is capable of a lot more only suggests that perhaps Díaz‘ songwriting wasn’t quite ready for an official release despite the glowing production values of the record. This is made even more confusing if you’re already familiar with her work in Demona where the vocals were a mess and the music was fast, ripping thrash. If you’re not picky about this shit by all means there are a bunch of solid riffs and a fun vocal performance on hand on Outline‘s debut. For preview I’d recommend the “Lady Teaser” music video and then jump on the album for “Black Eyed Devil” and the title track.
Evil stalks the night with us. 2.75/5.0
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