Released: 2013, Grim Reaper Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
SPEED MERCHANTS are a young speed/thrash metal band from Serbia. When I say young I mean in bands terms, having only been formed less than two year ago. ‘Blast From The Past’ is I presume their first EP release, with their debut album currently in the making. What is clear from the three tracks is that this is a band that is still learning, still figuring things out between themselves. You can hear the progressions as the track go on, as they try new mixes, combinations (and in the title track, backing vocals) and this in itself is encouraging.
The first thing that immediately hits you with the first track ‘Eternal Damage’ is the unbalanced recording levels, which to be honest are not great. Though it gives you the sense of what the band sounds like live, with the inequality between the vocal levels and instruments, on a recording the vocals should not be competing so much with the guitars. From the start you have to train your ears somewhat to be able to listen to the vocals at all, though this does even out later in the track.
‘Speed Merchants’ begins with much more promise and a more mature sound. The guitars provide a short leading rhythm with intermittent drums before quickly bringing in the rest of the band to amp up the pace. Less than one minute in there’s a slight change of direction with a simplified sounding guitar line and altered drum beat that both unifies and challenges at the same time. I genuinely like the instrumental lines in this track, and it seems to be a theme for the band; switching things around and bringing in new rhythms and challenges to keep things fresh and to keep your ear working. Though with their title track this was for me done too many times and would have been better if it had been kept a little simpler as all the element were already there and sometimes too much can be, well, too much.
The main element I had a real issue with in each song was the vocals, which I just couldn’t get along with. I am attributing some of this again to the recording quality as the vocal track sounds as if it has just been laid on top of the instrumental tracks – which of course is normal, but it’s lacking the editing that should meld the tracks together to give a united sound, so immediately it is not presenting the vocals in their best light. There are differences in style being portrayed across the tracks but it just doesn’t sit well, and this could very well be down to my own personal preferences. Though one thing that struck me in one track was that the vocals reminded me of the SEX PISTOLS’ Johnny Rotten; sounding as if they were trying to bring those elements of his style to play here, but falling very far short of the mark. I notice that they have new vocalist from the one on the EP and I hope that is will be an improvement.
As mentioned this is a very new band who are clearly in the midst of finding out who they are as a band and their own style, and there is definite promise here. The way they link different rhythms together to both challenge and meld into one is genuinely good. I can hear throughout the direction they are moving into and I think given time they can bring something solid to the table.
Review by Rowena Lamb