Released: 2015, AFM Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If the prospect of vintage thrash with a bit more wit and a bit less pummel seems appealing, then Northern Ireland quintet Gama Bomb are just what the doctor ordered. The band's thrash/speed metal clamor is right out of the Overkill, Sacred Reich, etc., archive of the late '80s/early '90s - which isn't necessarily a good thing, given the bounty of similar stuff that is here, there and everywhere these days. But their boisterous, tongue-in-cheek approach, freewheeling delivery and boundless energy definitely plants these guys atop the rethrash heap.
Gama Bomb's fifth album is a celebration of the crap-culture glory of '70s chop-socky/drive-in action movies, sticking it to the man and kicking ass – which should speak to thrash fans at every level. Untouchable Glory opens with the bracing pace and fiendishly catchy, gang-sung “Who! Hah!” kung-fu battle cry of the title track, and it's off to the races from there.
“Avenge Me,” “Raging Skies,” “She Thing” and “Witching Mania” offer more exploitation film send-ups. “Drinkers Inc.,” “James Joints,” “Ride The Night” and the pub sing-along “Tuck Your T-Shirt In,” on the other hand, flip the bird at “the system,” offering the kind of “rock hard, ride free” sentiments that have been a hallmark of thrash for 30-some years.
Yet, fueled by the full-throttle tempos of bassist Joe McGuigan and drummer Paul Caffrey, and brash and abundant hooks of guitar tandem Domo Dixon and John Roche – not to mention a crunching, very modern sounding production - the material here transcends mere “throwbackishness.” The band's sheer zeal and sense of purpose is infectious, and though they certainly rage, the songs are more often catchy and inviting than threatening.
Frontman Philly Burns certainly helps in that regard with his clear, authoritative vocals - which recall Overkill's Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth – delivered with a knowing wink and breathless vigor. He ably captures the high-spiritedness, and sometimes downright silliness, of the lyrics, and leads the charge with veteran guile.
While their sound is undeniably familiar, Gama Bomb's willingness to not abide by the karaoke-like old school regimentation to which many rethrash bands are so inexplicably bound makes Untouchable Glory seem like a breath of fresh air by comparison. It's frantic, fun and exuberant — an enjoyable, and emphatic, diversion from the every day.