Released: 2009, Earache
So, one of the biggest labels in metal has taken the brave step of releasing an album from one of their major bands absolutely free to download from their website. Both Earache and Irishmen Gama Bomb have to be given major kudos for this step: Gama Bomb for sticking to their guns and Earache for giving the okay. This paragraph is dedicated completely to giving credit and praise to the two entities. In this season of crass commercialism (read: X-fucking-mas), it's wonderful to see such an enlightened and forward-thinking view of how music distribution is going to be for bands on Gama Bomb's level in the future.
On to the music now. Honestly, I'm glad TALES FROM THE GRAVE IN SPACE was free to download. I wouldn't have paid money for this album. Not because it's absolutely terrible or anything like that. It's a good performance overall from Philly Byrne and crew, and they display a maturity in songwriting and instrumentation far beyond their tender years. They are holding their own in the world of modern thrash, when their very own label has bands like Evile, SSS and Municipal Waste on their roster, Gama Bomb do things the old-fashioned way: graft, touring and now, releasing albums with regularity.
Sadly, there is nothing to distinguish TALES FROM THE GRAVE IN SPACE from their previous album, CITIZEN BRAIN (2008). Now CITIZEN BRAIN really showcased what this band was about: gang vocals a la Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus aplenty, a healthy dedication to speed, a good grasp of thrash riff fundamentals, a distinctly Irish sense of humour and good fun etc. While they were also shopping at Patchjackets 'R' Us (I can't claim credit for this wee hilarity - a reviewer on Metal-Archives came up with that gem) like the rest of the new-old retro-metro acolytes of Noughties thrash, they also had something slightly extra. Byrne's vocals, for a start, cleaner than your typical hoarse thrash shouter. That solo on 'In The Court of General Zod' on CITIZEN BRAIN took me completely by surprise - sounded like something Satch would do. Little flourishes like that, y'know.
On TALES FROM THE GRAVE IN SPACE, the only noticeable bit of progression is the subtle injection of an ever more power-metalish quality into both the singing and the riff stylings. That's it. CITIZEN BRAIN fades into TALES... rather too easily for my liking. In fact, the two are side by side on my ITunes, and I couldn't tell when one ended and the other began. Bottom line is, you should get TALES... simply because it's free. But if you already have CITIZEN BRAIN, well, the two albums are, frankly speaking, interchangeable.