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
4.53 | 18 ratings
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ANGEL DUST Into the Dark Past Album Cover Into the Dark Past
4.31 | 13 ratings
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ENFORCER Death By Fire Album Cover Death By Fire
4.50 | 5 ratings
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ANGEL DUST To Dust You Will Decay Album Cover To Dust You Will Decay
4.22 | 9 ratings
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ENFORCER From Beyond Album Cover From Beyond
4.21 | 8 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Helloween Album Cover Helloween
4.06 | 30 ratings
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WARRANT The Enforcer Album Cover The Enforcer
4.17 | 6 ratings
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AGENT STEEL Unstoppable Force Album Cover Unstoppable Force
4.00 | 17 ratings
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STRIKER City Of Gold Album Cover City Of Gold
4.09 | 7 ratings
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ENFORCER Into the Night Album Cover Into the Night
4.08 | 6 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Walls of Jericho Album Cover Walls of Jericho
3.93 | 81 ratings
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VENOM Welcome to Hell Album Cover Welcome to Hell
3.92 | 48 ratings
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speed metal Music Reviews


EP · 1985 · Speed Metal
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Helloween's debut EP is perhaps the strongest release of their speed metal years, enjoying a brash, rough about the edges style which gives it a touch more energy than the enjoyable but not exceptional Walls of Jericho, which was the only full-length studio album of their speed metal era before they undertook their career-defining shift into power metal.

There's few harbingers of their later style here, bar for a certain flair for the dramatic and borderline theatrical, such as in the whispered narration on Victim of Fate. Kai Hansen was still handling the vocals at this point in time - him passing the duties on to Michael Kiske would be a key aspect of the group's shift to power metal - and I think he acquits himself well here, establishing himself as a compelling and characterful vocalist. Mind you, if you don't get on with his vocals this will come across significantly worse to you - but for my money, I think this was his greatest moment as a lead singer.

BLIND GUARDIAN Follow the Blind

Album · 1989 · Speed Metal
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"Follow the Blind" is the second full-length studio album by German speed/power metal act Blind Guardian. The album was released through No Remorse Records in April 1989, a little less than a year after the release of their debut full-length studio album "Battalions of Fear" from May 1988.

Stylistically the material on "Follow the Blind" pretty much continues the speed/power metal style of "Battalions of Fear", although Blind Guardian have arguably become better songwriters and more skilled musicians since the debut album. It´s still artists like Running Wild, Rage, and early Helloween which are valid references and at this point Blind Guardian weren´t the most unique sounding German act (Kai Hansen even makes a guest vocal appearance on "Valhalla").

Blind Guardian perform their music with great skill and conviction, but lead vocalist/bassist Hansi Kürsch doesn´t have particularly memorable or melodic vocal lines to sing, and that the major issue with "Follow the Blind". As well performed and well produced the album is, the tracks simply aren´t that memorable and they aren´t easy to tell apart because of the lack of hooks. In that respect they are closer to second tier thrash metal than speed/power metal, but this is of course not pure thrash metal.

So upon conclusion "Follow the Blind" is a decent sophomore studio album by Blind Guardian, but it´s a far cry from the quality and uniqueness of their next couple of releases, where the band really found their sound. This is for fans of the above mentioned artists, although you won´t find much here which sets Blind Guardian apart from mid-80s releases by those artists. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

HELLRIPPER Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags

Album · 2023 · Speed Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Scotland has been the centre of countless enigmas throughout the ages whether it be the secret societies that have instituted Freemasonary or the mysteries of the Loch Ness Monster. Even the northern most part of the UK looks imposing on a map with jagged island chains sputtering out from the very tippy top looking like a child was channeling demons while sculpting an artistic expression. Here is yet another phenomenon from the Northern Highlands and his name is HELLRIPPER. Well it’s James McBain actually and he is the one-man / singer / songwriter / guitarist / bassist / drummer and occasional goat herder by night. McBain comes from the city of Aberdeen, a city of many amazing trivia itself such as the fact that self-sealing envelopes were invented there and of course a long history with witchcraft. That’s where HELLRIPPER comes in!

As HELLRIPPER, McBain has been a busy boy having cranked a whole slew of EPs, splits and albums since 2014. WARLOCKS GRIM & WITHERED HAGS is his newest musical journey into the esoteric world of magick, the occult and Satanism. Once again McBain looks back rather than ahead by creating a cauldron and a list of magical spells to conjure up his own versions of blackened speed metal from the pioneering days of extreme metal. In this cauldron one will find traces of Metallica, Megadeath, Venom, Slayer and even healthy doses of the world of NWOBHM. After adding the proper ingredients of sheep brains, newt’s eyeballs and full moon potato sprouts from Zimbabwe, HELLRIPPER has crafted another 8 tracks that add up to 43 minutes of playing time. Even the album length is on retro mode!

Sounding somewhat like the Japanese band Sabbat only set to NWOBHM worship, HELLRIPPER really has nailed the classic retro sounds from the underground 80s and extreme metal 90s without ever stepping over into the second wave anything. You could call this a first wave fuckfest if you will where all the earliest offerings of metal are happily getting all nasty together. Let’s not forget the Motörhead brash bravado that gives it that crust punk connection. Basically HELLRIPPER has cast his net and cast it wide and although WARLOCKS GRIM & WITHERED HAGS focuses on tamping down the raucous energetic unhinged antics of prior albums, McBain once again proves he’s a master of past master manipulation with tracks that sound as if they really did exist in the late 80s timeline only forgotten in some vault for the ensuing decades.

Graced with catchy melodic hooks, HELLRIPPER tames things down a bit but still keeps the speed metal furor roaring along. One thing is for sure and McBain is a riff monster, one that must have extracted some DNA samplings from some of the influences on board in order to craft this musical Frankenstein. Given that McBain was born in 1995 well after the majority of first wave of extreme metal had well given way to the next coming, his astute research has paid off well making WARLOCKS GRIM & WITHERED HAGS a nice throwback to the days when Slayer still had shock value and ripping lead guitar lines were still the biggest thing since sliced bread (was that ever a thing?). As much as i would like to love the heck out of this one, ultimately it’s sort of a one trick pony in many ways. Sure the tracks showcase a dab of this and a pinch of that but it fucks with my sensibilities as i’m always pulled back to another era and reminded of one other band or another.

It seems that HELLRIPPER and his ilk have become popular as retro metal entertains those who weren’t around the first time around. All of that is fine and dandy but honestly i’d rather just listen to the original masters in the first place than dabble in recycled tribute albums. So it’s a mixed bag for me with this sort of wayback machine revisited type of metal. Sure it’s competent, it’s even entertaining while i’m listening to it but at the same time it lacks that wanna come back and listen to the hell out of it that many of the classics offered. For those like me who want to see metal progress and relish in experiencing the new paths forged this one doesn’t scratch that itch for i can understand why many are attracted to the sounds of HELLRIPPER. But you always have to wonder if you REALLY like it or did the freaky goat on the cover simply cast a spell on you? Hmmm.

ORIGINAL SIN Sin Will Find You Out

Album · 1986 · Speed Metal
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"Sin Will Find You Out" is the debut full-length studio album by US speed metal act Original Sin. The album was released through Cobra Records in 1986. The history of the band is quite interesting, as Original Sin was promoted as an all-female speed metal act (which was quite unusual for the time) and photos of the band showed an all-female band, but in reality it´s only lead vocalist Danielle Draconis (real name: Danae DeFeis and sister of Virgin Steele vocalist David DeFeis) who is of the female sex. The remaining band members (all working under female pseudonyms) are all males. Some of them normally working with DeFeis brother in Virgin Steele, but all three of them also recorded the 1986 Exorcist album "Nightmare Theatre" with David DeFeis. The latter also acts as producer on "Sin Will Find You Out" which completes the circle.

If you´re familiar with the "Nightmare Theatre" album from Exorcist, the music style on "Sin Will Find You Out" won´t come as a huge surprise, as the two albums are very similar in terms of the instrumentation and overall speed metal music style. The difference is of course that Draconis provides the music on "Sin Will Find You Out" with a female touch, which the slightly more raw "Nightmare Theatre" didn´t have. Draconis is a relatively raw and staccato delivering speed metal vocalist though, so don´t expect angelic lead vocals here.

"Sin Will Find You Out" features a raw, organic, and well sounding production job, which suits the rawness of the material well. I´d describe it more or less as the sister album to "Nightmare Theatre" and I rate them both pretty equally in terms of quality and listening satisfaction. A good quality release and a 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

EXORCIST Nightmare Theatre

Album · 1986 · Speed Metal
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"Nightmare Theatre" is the debut full-length studio album by US speed metal act Exorcist. The album was released through Cobra Records in 1986. It was recorded over a few days in January 1986 and it´s the sole album release from Exorcist, who was a studio project written and recorded by several members of Virgin Steele and drummer Mark Edwards. All musicians worked under pseudonyms. All of them were also involved in the making of Original Sin´s 1986 album "Sin Will Find You Out" (Cobra Records), and some of them in former Virgin Steele guitarist Jack Starr´s Burning Starr 1986 album "No Turning Back! (Napalm Records).

It´s interesting to hear David DeFeis (here working under the Damien Rath pseudonym) singing in a gruff and raw vocal style and only occasionally pulling out a high pitched scream. It´s just another testament to the man´s incredible vocal abilities. The music is sharp, raw, and relatively savage speed metal. It´s pretty straight forward with hard rocking heavy metal riffs, pounding drums, a thumping bass, and DeFeis snarling on top. There´s a dark and demonic atmosphere to the album, which is only further enhanced by a couple of shorter eerie sounding interlude tracks and the fact that DeFeis vocals are often doubled with a demonic voice (I´m actually thinking that Glen Benton from Deicide may have listened to this album).

Songwriting wise you won´t find anything here, which you haven´t heard before, but it´s all really well done, and "Nightmare Theatre" also features a well sounding organic production job, which is pretty perfect for this type of music. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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Artists with Speed Metal release(s)


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