Toronto’s very own Chainbreaker will be releasing their debut full-length on February 15th via Hells Headbangers Records. An intertwining linkage of short speed metal anthems is upon us; grab your leather pants and tie up that bullet belt, we’re diving into alcohol-fueled sonic depravity.
Sonic depravity was meant to be an endearing term, by the way. Historically, speed metal has occupied an interesting niche within the hectic world of metal’s evolution. Pioneered by ‘80s bands to the likes of Razor, Exciter, and Hirax, the subgenre gets slapped on to whatever band is too straight-cut and groovy for thrash but also not put-together enough to deserve that beloved heavy metal tag. Speed metal tends to be tagged alongside other subgenres due to its malleability, and as a result straight speed bands are not the most common of a bunch.
Although Canada is kind of a hit-or-miss when it comes to early extreme metal, one thing we have an odd prominence over is early speed metal. Its kind of freaky, actually, as there were a ton of old-school Canadian speed metal bands that have certainly stood the test of time. Exciter, Razor, Annihilator (a bit on the thrashier side, but I’m counting it), and Anvil are all excellent Canadian groups that were right in that founding pocket in the mid ‘80s. Some of the best speed metal records and individual anthems come from these guys, with Exciter’s “Heavy Metal Maniac” earworming itself into people’s heads for days after it gets played in some dive bar.
Naturally, I’m going to connect Chainbreaker to this legendary scene. Actually, there’s kind of another Canadian speed metal scene brewing in various downtown alleyways across the country, with bands like Striker, Iron Dogs, and now Chainbreaker beginning to make a name for themselves alongside growing discographies.
Enough about metal history for now, let’s indulge in some metal anthems, shall we?
You wouldn’t be wrong to call Lethal Desire a speed metal album, but one cannot ignore its blackened tinge, as well as its thorough incorporation of thrashier guitarwork here and there. The album is bound to galloping riffs and simple song structures, but there are a few numbers on here that go back and forth between slow and heavy, with the heavier parts managing to compete with some of the faster portions of your favourite thrash records, probably.
With the vocals, there are no high-pitched wails to be found. Whether that’s a downside or not depends on your preferred flavour of party anthems, but I can assure you that vocalist Rob Ouellette has got some impressive pipes. While his voice can certainly go a little wonky and borderline goofy at times, especially during the chorus of “Constant Graving,” he’s definitely mastered that raspy squeal we all know and love. He’s even got some character in his style which manages to memorably deviate him from the competition.
Lethal Desire hits the nail on the alive corpse’s coffin in terms of aesthetic and style. Other subgenres are undoubtedly guilty of having widespread stereotypes as well, but speed metal has always been home to the simple band name, the fun-having kick most of the affecting songs have, and the general lack of seriousness which feels fresh in comparison to all those death metal freaks, obsessed with gore and filth; disgusting! All seriousness set aside, speed metal has never been too serious and I’m glad that Chainbreaker are keeping it that way. From “Leatherized” to “Hellbound,” you’re never required to do much thinking while listening to this music.
Now that I think about it, speed metal is kind of the Big Bang Theory of the metal world. As a young and learning individual you don’t really understand how its brutal simplicity can allure so many people, but as you get more knowledgeable within the topic at hand and you’re over encumbered with useless knowledge of old-school death metal band trivia, its really nice to kick back and listen to some hard-hitting speed metal every once in a while.
I’ll conclude the discussion on that note. While Lethal Desire wasn’t necessarily dissected and resewn together like usual around here, I don’t believe that such is really necessary. Like I mentioned above, Chainbreaker stuck to the simple song structures, the alcohol-injected numbers, and the “screw off” attitude typical of the style. However, more importantly, the band has proven their ability to create a cohesive string of fun metal anthems. The group didn’t ask for an in-depth discussion, they just want to jam some riffs and play a couple of live sets while making friends along the way. The quality is there, so they’ve got a pass.
Check this one out and hold on to your socks, it’s a fun one!