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How do you guys define "speed metal?"

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LightningRider View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 9:50am
New here, big metal fan all my life.  I'm mostly into power and thrash, and I've got some good experience in black metal, but I noticed that speed metal's exact definition changes from place to place.  Megadeth is considered speed on Lastfm, but RYM hardly considers it anymore, for example.  Also, they took speed off the entire Dragonforce catalog.

I'm just wondering how everyone here defines it.  Consider this my official ice-breaker.  And if you'd like to know, my favorite speed album (based on my def and the fact that 5/9 songs meet that def) is Metal Church.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 12:52pm
Speed metal is a bit of a minefield. 

I was introduced to the concept as it being the precursor of both thrash and power metal. That makes a lot of sense for power metal, since the early German PM bands started out as speed metal bands, but the timelines don't line up to well for thrash metal. Granted though that US speed metal bands have more in common with thrash metal and European speed metal bands with power metal. 

Though US Power metal into the mix and it gets even more complicated. 

The best description for speed metal I've ever seen anywhere is that there are a lot of speed metal songs, a good number of speed metal albums, but not many speed metal bands. 

In terms of being a musical style I define it as being less melodic than power metal, but less abrasive than thrash metal. 

I don't hear that much that fits the bill to be honest. Personally I think that whole spectrum of genres from heavy metal through speed, USPM, power and thrash is all kinds of messy. As one example, I would rather call the harder edged German bands speed metal opposed to power metal, but the likes of Grave Digger are firmly considered to be power metal to most people. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Triceratopsoil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 2:06pm
halfway between nwobhm and thrash imo
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LightningRider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 3:07pm
Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

Speed metal is a bit of a minefield. 

I was introduced to the concept as it being the precursor of both thrash and power metal. That makes a lot of sense for power metal, since the early German PM bands started out as speed metal bands, but the timelines don't line up to well for thrash metal. Granted though that US speed metal bands have more in common with thrash metal and European speed metal bands with power metal. 

Though US Power metal into the mix and it gets even more complicated. 

The best description for speed metal I've ever seen anywhere is that there are a lot of speed metal songs, a good number of speed metal albums, but not many speed metal bands. 

In terms of being a musical style I define it as being less melodic than power metal, but less abrasive than thrash metal. 

I don't hear that much that fits the bill to be honest. Personally I think that whole spectrum of genres from heavy metal through speed, USPM, power and thrash is all kinds of messy. As one example, I would rather call the harder edged German bands speed metal opposed to power metal, but the likes of Grave Digger are firmly considered to be power metal to most people. 


Out of curiosity, can you list some examples of songs and albums?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 3:26pm
I'll have to have a think about specific songs that aren't from speed metal albums, though the most famous one is surely Motorhead's Ace of Spades. 

For speed metal albums though, a lot of the early ones from German bands who turned into the first power metal bands: Helloween, Blind Guardian, Rage, Running Wild etc. On the US side I'd throw in Agent Steel, who were also typically put in the USPM crowd. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LightningRider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 3:54pm
Originally posted by adg211288 adg211288 wrote:

I'll have to have a think about specific songs that aren't from speed metal albums, though the most famous one is surely Motorhead's Ace of Spades. 

For speed metal albums though, a lot of the early ones from German bands who turned into the first power metal bands: Helloween, Blind Guardian, Rage, Running Wild etc. On the US side I'd throw in Agent Steel, who were also typically put in the USPM crowd. 


Agent Steel, Venom, Stormwarrior and Exciter are four of the most consistent bands in the actual genre from what I can gather.  Paradox also makes a lot of speed metal.  I agree that most speed metal acts don't focus on it.  The problem with it is that speed metal doesn't really focus on emphasizing creativity, and on a grander scale it forsakes any necessity for ballads or build-up.  I'll include Megadeth (at least most of the albums before Countdown), the first two Metal Church albums and Live, and easily the first Helloween EP and Walls of Jericho.

Current top 10:

1. Metal Church - Metal Church
2. Megadeth - Rust in Peace
3. Stormwarrior - At Foreign Shores, Live in Japan (A must hear for any power metal or speed metal fan)
4. Metal Church - The Dark
5. Megadeth - Peace Sells, but Who's Buying?
6. Stormwarrior - Heading Northe
7. Metallica - Kill 'Em All
8. Walls of Jericho
9. Stormwarrior - Thunder & Steele
10. Metal Church - Live
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LightningRider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 5:19pm
Something I forgot to mention: the purest of speed metal has a tendency to focus on jamming songs rather than emotional tension.  Think about it.  The tension comes from the rocking on many Venom and Exciter albums.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Unitron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 6:25pm
I don't, speed metal isn't a thing as far as I'm concerned lol

For me it's either power metal or thrash metal. It just seems like a middle man label to me, and if something sounds like both I'd rather just call it power-thrash.

Originally posted by Triceratopsoil Triceratopsoil wrote:

halfway between nwobhm and thrash imo


This makes sense to me though, which is basically the early thrash sound. (Well, early thrash once it really became a thing, there's a few songs from the 70's I'd call proto-thrash)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Triceratopsoil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 6:28pm
yeah I don't feel strongly about the difference, if any, between speed metal, USPM, and half the stuff in the Heavy Metal subgenre on this site
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vim Fuego Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2021 at 8:50pm
Originally posted by Unitron Unitron wrote:

I don't, speed metal isn't a thing as far as I'm concerned lol


Yeah, it really is.Wink It's harder to identify these days, but back in the 80s it was more obvious. If you look at the tracklist for the Speed Kills compilations, they were supposed to be the best of speed metal. The only speed metal songs I'd identify here:

Speed Kills:
Hallows Eve - Metal Merchants
Exciter - Riders From Darkness

Speed Kills 2:
Agent Steel - The Calling / Agents Of Steel
Destructor - Pounding Evil (New Version)
Brainfever - Brainfever (Remix)

Speed Kills 3:
Agent Steel - Unstoppable Force
English Dogs - The Eye Of Shamahn

After that, nothing.

And of course someone else will come along and tell me some of these are power metal, but it really wasn't a thing then same as it is now.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adg211288 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Oct 2021 at 2:16am
We could consider the following three statements:

Speed metal is a less aggressive form of thrash metal.
Speed metal is just heavy metal, played faster.
Speed metal is a less melodic form of (Euro) power metal.

All are basically the same thing. There's definitely more of a relationship between power and thrash than some thrash fans care to admit. Speed metal is the bridge between them. We might say its for songs, albums and sometimes bands that don't quite fit in the other three. 

Viking metal is in a similar situation, mainly with black and folk metal. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote UMUR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Oct 2021 at 2:57am
I´d say somewhere between trad metal and thrash metal. Early releases by Anthrax and Overkill fall in that catagory IMO.
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