Speed Metal

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Speed Metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music. As the name implies the genre is characterised by its focus on fast playing style and because of this it is often considered to be the progenitor of both thrash metal and power metal. In actuality thrash metal was emerging around the same time as speed metal (and had overtaken it within a couple of years), however much of early thrash metal bears trademarks of speed metal as well, including the Big Four thrash metal bands, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. This has led to some to use the two terms interchangeably, however speed metal is considered to allow for more melody and less aggressive playing than thrash metal, containing more influence from the music's roots in traditional heavy metal and less from hardcore punk (though speed metal/punk hybrid artists are not unheard of). Additionally speed metal bands are less likely to use growled or shouted vocals than thrash metal. Speed metal's influence on European style power metal, which emerged in the late eighties, was much greater, with many early Euro power metal bands, including Helloween, Blind Guardian and Rage, starting their careers with more speed metal based sounds before becoming power metal acts.

While the roots of speed metal may be traced back even further with tracks such as Deep Purple's Highway Star or Queen's Stone Cold Crazy often credited as being proto-speed metal, it was traditional heavy metal bands such as Motörhead, Accept and Judas Priest that are considered to have had the most influence on the speed metal sound and can be said to have produced individual speed metal songs (such as Accept's Fast as a Shark) before there were any actual speed metal bands or albums.

Some of the first artists to really kick-start speed metal as a genre were Venom, Running Wild and Atomkraft, with Venom releasing the Welcome to Hell album in 1981, which could be considered the first speed metal album. Though as is common for speed metal, all these bands had elements of other genres in their sound as artists that exclusively or even primarily play speed metal are comparatively rare next to other metal sub-genres, though there are many thrash/speed, power/speed and heavy/speed metal bands in existence, who each may or may not have made some speed metal dominated albums. An early notable band to play a primarily speed metal based music was Exciter, who released their debut album Heavy Metal Maniac in 1983 and have mostly stuck with their speed metal dominant sound ever since, though they have also released speed/heavy and speed/thrash releases. Venom later turned to making more heavy and thrash metal based albums while Running Wild become an early example of Euro style power metal and later a more straight heavy metal based act.

Most well known examples of speed metal, which along with the aforementioned also includes Agent Steel, Angel Dust (early) and Savage Grace, are from the eighties. There has however been something of a speed metal renaissance starting in the late 2000's with examples of newer speed metal bands including Ranger, Demona, Speedwolf and Evil Invaders.

In addition to classic speed metal sounds, the genre has had a notable merger with black metal to create a blackened speed metal sound, typically consisting of speed metal guitar riffs with black metal vocals styles and an altogether dirtier atmosphere compared to straight speed metal bands or other hybrid styles, taking their cues from the early template laid down by Venom. Examples of blackened speed metal bands include Joel Grind, Bulldozing Bastard, Occult Burial and Midnight.

Certain neoclassical metal artists such as Joe Stump and Marty Friedman have also used speed metal to form the basis of their music on certain releases, such as Stump's 2004 album Speed Metal Messiah or Friedman's 1988 album Dragon's Kiss.

On MMA, speed/thrash and speed/power metal releases will typically be placed under thrash and power metal respectively, while speed/heavy releases will be placed under speed metal. Blackened speed metal will usually be included under speed metal with the work of neoclassical based artists will be included under neoclassical metal.

- Genre definition written by 666sharon666.

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with Thrash Metal and Groove Metal):
  • Vim Fuego (leader)
  • Nightfly

speed metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

EXCITER Heavy Metal Maniac Album Cover Heavy Metal Maniac
EXCITER
4.53 | 18 ratings
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ANGEL DUST Into the Dark Past Album Cover Into the Dark Past
ANGEL DUST
4.31 | 13 ratings
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ENFORCER Death By Fire Album Cover Death By Fire
ENFORCER
4.50 | 5 ratings
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ANGEL DUST To Dust You Will Decay Album Cover To Dust You Will Decay
ANGEL DUST
4.22 | 9 ratings
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ENFORCER From Beyond Album Cover From Beyond
ENFORCER
4.23 | 7 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Helloween Album Cover Helloween
HELLOWEEN
4.07 | 29 ratings
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WARRANT The Enforcer Album Cover The Enforcer
WARRANT
4.17 | 6 ratings
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AGENT STEEL Unstoppable Force Album Cover Unstoppable Force
AGENT STEEL
4.00 | 17 ratings
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STRIKER City Of Gold Album Cover City Of Gold
STRIKER
4.09 | 7 ratings
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ENFORCER Into the Night Album Cover Into the Night
ENFORCER
4.08 | 6 ratings
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VENOM Welcome to Hell Album Cover Welcome to Hell
VENOM
3.92 | 46 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Walls of Jericho Album Cover Walls of Jericho
HELLOWEEN
3.90 | 78 ratings
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Cold Death Embrace
EP
EXHAUSTION
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Let There Be Witchery
Album
MIDNIGHT
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speed metal Music Reviews

EXHAUSTION Cold Death Embrace

EP · 2022 · Speed Metal
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siLLy puPPy
EXHAUSTION is one of many newly formed bands that has taken a time machine back a few decades for inspiration rather than looking to the contemporary vastness of the metal universe. This band formed in 2020 in Verona, Italy and features Elia M. [Elia Mirandola] (guitar, vocals), Federico "V" [Federico Dalla Benetta] (bass) and Luca L. [Luca Ligabo] (drums) with members also playing in Nero or the Fall of Rome and Riul Doamnei.

COLD DEATH EMBRACE is the band’s debut EP and features five tracks that only add up to 21 1/2 minutes. EXHAUSTION pretty much revives the early cauldrons of extreme metal in the vein of Venom and Celtic Frost where speed metal, first wave black metal and primeval thrash metal still had not found independence of each other. This band’s sound also has that punk delivery style in the style of Motorhead which gives the impression that this authentically retro experience could’ve come out in the early 1980s.

This is groovy metal with a black’n’roll swagger with caustic guitar riffs, distinct bass grooves and a lazy keep the timing percussive drive. Lead vocaslit Elia M. has channeled his inner Lemmy with that same raspy kinda thrash, sorta death metal bravado. Some of the grooves make me want to start singing “Ace of Spades” but the band is just distinct enough to have its own persona. The thundering nature of style is profound with speed laced riffing hogging the limelight but the band is tight and the instrumental interplay is impressive.

While excellently performed, COLD DEATH EMBRACE unfortunately lacks memorable tracks. The track “War Flags” is perhaps the best of the lot with a nice varying intro and then a rampaging crust punk sort of delivery with emphatic declarative vocals growling above the din. All in all this is a decent debut but for my liking not only is this my favorite retro style of 80s metal but EXHAUSTION doesn’t quite muster up enough creative mojo to really sound like anything other than a tribute band on its way to individuality. If the entire album was like the final track it would be much better.

MIDNIGHT Let There Be Witchery

Album · 2022 · Speed Metal
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siLLy puPPy
For those not in the know, MIDNIGHT may sound like a black metal band that only comes out at the witching hour to wreak misanthropic rage upon the unsuspecting but in reality has been and still is the one-man project of Jameson Walters better known as Athenar who started cranking out his MIDNIGHT releases in 2011 with the now blackened speed metal cult classic “Satanic Royalty.” Blackened speed metal you ask? You bet. While it may be tempting to assume that such a combo pack died out in the 80s with bands like Venom before speed metal morphed into thrash and the first primeval traces of black metal evolved into the second wave, well there’s always someone out there who wants to keep this mangled amorphous pre-splintering of metal sub-genres alive.

With a propensity of six syllable album titles, MIDNIGHT returns in 2022 to deliver his fifth installment in the MIDNIGHT canon with LET THERE BE WITCHERY which features another collection of filthy blackened speed thrash metal replete with all those classic Venom, Motorhead and Hellhammer mined from the 80s underground. Starting with 2020’s “Rebirth By Blasphemy,” MIDNIGHT joined the ranks of the Metal Blade universe which meant an improved production that took his murky muddy blackened speed metal filth to slightly cleaner professionalism however this is no slickly produced pop metal act by any means and the authenticity of the underground metal sonicity is fully in tact and ready to blow up speakers and eardrums far and wide.

Stylistically MIDNIGHT has remained a consistent act over his decade long run with that classic mix of speed metal, first wave black metal and now diminished thrash metal attacks. This music keeps that classic groove alive that many styles of metal have abandoned in lieu of atmospheric terror in this stage of the 21st century. LET THERE BE WITCHERY nurtures those classic early metal attributes such as a bluesy rock chord progression which has earned this stuff the secondary tag of black’n’roll. This is very much a instantly catchy type of metal from the vaults of several decades prior with Motorhead balls-to-the-wall style riffing all dressed up in the drastically distorted early blackened speed metal sounds of Venom, Hellhammer and early Bathory. It’s like a dance party with Satan because even the dark side likes to take a break from the heady atmospheric space metal of the modern era.

In many ways i like MIDNIGHT’s version of old school black speed metal even better than VENOM for Athenar seems to have ironed out all the wrinkles of those early recordings by adding consistently catchy almost ear wormy grooves, stellar guitar riffs that aren’t afraid to add a solo or two and a black metal vocal singing style that sounds a bit like the Japanese band Sigh. The boogie-woogie groove also reminds a bit of what early AC/DC would have sounded like had they gone full-on metal and there are hints of early NWOBHM moments in the vein of Judas Priest, Saxon etc but overall the Venom heritage is most pronounced and even though Venom has remained a thing in the metal world ever since they dropped their “Welcome To Hell” bomb in 1981, their songwriting skills suffered mightily after the first few albums and became rather marginal as the rest of the world passed them by.

LET THERE BE WITCHERY is another enchanting slice of MIDNIGHT in unadulterated retro form as he keeps those classic years alive in the context of a modern production value. While this style of gestating extreme metal has never been my absolute favorite of the lot, i cannot deny how well MIDNIGHT has channeled his inner Motorhead, Venom and Hellhammer to craft an authentically sounding period piece of this neglected sliver of the metal timeline. Lemmy would be proud! Perfectly performed in every way but if you’re looking for any form of originality then look elsewhere because what MIDNIGHT delivers here is a faithful restoration of a sound from long ago however it’s done so very very well that if you have any interest in this period of early metal then you really can’t go wrong with any MIDNIGHT release and LET THERE BE WITCHERY keeps those black magic spells in good form.

RUNNING WILD Branded and Exiled

Album · 1985 · Speed Metal
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UMUR
"Branded and Exiled" is the 2nd full-length studio album by German speed/power metal act Running Wild. The album was recorded in August 1985 and released later that same year through Noise International. It´s the successor to "Gates to Purgatory" from 1984 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as guitarist Preacher (real name: Gerald Warnecke) has been replaced by Majk Moti. The former´s stage name was actually pretty suiting as he left to study theology and later became an evangelical priest. The remaining part of the four-piece lineup are intact: Rock 'n' Rolf (real name: Rolf Kasparek) on vocals and guitars, Stephan Boriss on bass, and Hasche (real name: Wolfgang Hagemann) on drums.

Stylistically the music on the 8 track, 35:49 minutes long album continues the raw and hard pounding speed/heavy metal style of "Gates to Purgatory (1984)", but it´s overall a little less savage and speed metal infused than the predecessor. Featuring song titles like "God of Iron", "Marching to Die", and "Chains and Leather", it´s pretty easy to imagine the lyrical content, and you´d be exactly right if you thought the songs evolved around subjects like evil, Tolkien fantasy tales, praise of heavy metal culture, and fighting the establisment. So this is pretty much the epitome of heavy metal from those days.

Running Wild are a well playing act, and you´ll find plenty of powerful guitar riffs, blazing solos, and hard pounding rhythm section, on the album, as well as Rock 'n' Rolf´s raw vocals in front (and the occasional high pitched scream). The album features a powerful and well sounding production too, so upon conclusion "Branded and Exiled" is a quality sophomore studio album by Running Wild. The only thing which is a slight negative about this album, is the lack of an original sound. There´s little here which says to the listener that you´re listening to a Running Wild album. At this point they did what they did well, but they lacked an original sound. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

VIPER Coma Rage

Album · 1995 · Speed Metal
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Vim Fuego
A&R man logic 101: If Band A comes from Country X, then Band B from Country X equals Band A. And just in case, grab Band C, Band D, and Band E before anyone else does!

Just so this makes more sense to those who don't work as music label A&R people, I'll explain. Band A is Sepultura, a band who gave thrash metal the biggest kick in the ass since Slayer's "Reign In Blood". Country X is Brazil. Bands B, C, D and E are the likes of Overdose, Ratos De Porao, Korzus, or this lot, Viper.

To be brutally honest right from the start, this album simply is not very good. It is the type of album critics of thrash metal would use as an example of why thrash is crap. It is simplistic, a little moronic in the lyrical department, and was several years out of date when released. The album sounds like it is full of songs and ideas Metal Church rejected for their debut album. It would have been a solid enough album in the early days of thrash in 1985, but for 1995, it's anachronistic and really a bit of a joke.

The essence of thrash was originally taking a hardcore influence and adding it to metal. While Sepultura were listening to Discharge and the Dead Kennedys and were taking it all in, Viper were listening to Bad Religion and The Ramones. The songs are bouncy, cheerful and vapid. In places, it sounds like early Helloween on happy pills, but with worse vocals.

A few allowances need to be made in the lyric department for these guys, naturally being Portuguese speakers, but the lyrics are like something out of a Motley Crue record, or a 13 year old attempting to write songs for the first time– "Makin' Love", "Somebody Told Me You're Dead", "Far And Near".

There are some positives though. There's the odd unusual percussive flourish, like the instrumental "405 South", and the songs are toe–tappingly catchy. Vocalist Pit Passarell has an excellent sense of vocal melody, and would do well fronting a pop–punk band.

While Brazil's underground scene undoubtedly produced some excellent bands, Viper is not one of them. The A&R man from Roadrunner who picked these guys up managed to find another filler for bargain bins the world over.

ANGEL DUST To Dust You Will Decay

Album · 1988 · Speed Metal
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Nightfly
It’s only in the last year or two that I actually heard Angel Dust for the first time. After starting life as a speed metal band in the 80’s, they split up after two albums and reformed in 1997, re-inventing themselves as a power metal band, releasing a further four albums. It was on these later releases that were my first taste of the band. I’m quite selective with power metal, generally preferring the heavier USPM, but German PM bands can often be heavier than many of their other European counterparts as well. Such is the case with Angel Dust and I was impressed with their strong hooks and melodies that didn’t sacrifice heaviness.

To Dust You Will Decay, released in 1988, is the second of their original incarnation albums. It’s not surprisingly as slick as their later work but still has a powerful , full and professional sounding production, especially for the time when lesser known bands often released albums with a less than perfect sound to put it kindly. The band are tight and the nine songs are well played speed metal , occasionally verging on thrash, with no shortage of compelling riffs on not surprisingly, mainly up-tempo numbers. It’s on these songs where the band is at their best, the few mid-paced songs like Wings Of An Angel being less memorable though lesser bands would be glad of them. The songs often contain melodic elements making a bridge to their later power metal style. The increase in melody is more noticeable from their debut which was at the thrashier end of speed metal, which nevertheless was an equally fine album. Pick of the bunch? The King and the title track and The Duel are as good a choice as any, as I prefer my metal fast but there’s plenty of similar quality to pick from here.

I wish I’d been aware of this band in the 80’s as this is certainly an album I would have bought at the time but in those pre-internet days it wasn’t as easy to hear new albums as it is now. Still better late than never and I can recommend this along with Angel Dust’s other five albums very highly.

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