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Album review: Metal snobs beware: 'No Epitaphs'; is fun, but nothing special

Melodic metal. Though the phrase may sound like an oxymoron, it is actually a genre that is growing in popularity among fans of heavy metal.

Melodic metal is a form of metal in which the drums, vocals and bass are as heavy and aggressive as possible, as is the case with most heavy metal, but the guitarist’s role takes on a more melodic aspect as the solos become more symphonic and well-tuned.

“No Epitaphs”, the upcoming release from heavy metal punk band Ramming Speed, is an interesting blend of traditional heavy metal and epic guitar riffs that actually consist of more than fast-paced power chords.

The first track, “No Forgiveness in Death”, gives off an impression of energetic epicness. The fun riffs mixed with the perfect head-banging beat will make fans want to get up and move with the music.

For most metal fans, this feeling will likely last when the gritty vocals of the screamer (I mean, singer) come in. Metal heads are no strangers to indiscernible growling, and most find it fun to mosh to.

Metal heads who are slightly pickier, like this critic, may be disappointed by the vocals and find their energy levels lowered by this disappointment. While the growling is not particularly terrible or unpleasant to listen to, there is also nothing that makes it stand out. Peter Gallagher’s growling sounds like that of any other pissed off man screaming into the microphone. The lack of melodies to match those of the guitar is rather dissatisfying.

What makes it so unimpressive for more musical listeners is not the screaming itself, but the lack of pitch control and diction on Gallagher’s part. If Ramming Speed wants to take the next step in making impressive music, Gallagher may want to take a page out of Arch Enemy’s book. Alissa White-Gluz, Arch Enemy vocalist, might scream and growl a lot, but you can understand most of what she’s saying when she does so.

Listeners looking for words of inspiration will definitely want to skip this album, as there is absolutely no way to discern whether Gallagher is even speaking English, much less what it is he’s actually saying. Only the most dedicated metal head, with the help of lyric books, will be able to sing along to the distorted words in “No Epitaphs”.

Despite this disappointment, “No Epitaphs” is actually a fun, upbeat album. The music is a catchy blend of old metal-inspired solos mixed with the epic guitar intros commonly found in symphonic metal. No one will be able to fall asleep after experiencing the pounding drums in “Horns of War,” and the epic guitar solos in “Break in the Chain” make powering through the vocalist’s gibberish worthwhile.

Guitarists and bassists who enjoy playing metal may find Kallen Bliss, Snake Chuffskin’s and Ben Powell’s playing perfect to inspire the next speed metal solo. Drummers will definitely love the heart-pounding beats of Jonah Livingston. Despite the lack of flair in the vocals, Ramming Speed’s new album stands out from the cookie-cutter thrash metal bands that tour these days.

For those who like head-banging, mosh-worthy nonsense rounded out with solos perfect for throwing your horns in the air, “No Epitaphs” may be the next album for you. 

For a sneak peek at "No Epitaphs," out on Sep. 4, visit this link to listen to single, "Choke Holds and Bullet Holes."

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Skylar Griego is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @TDLBooks.

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