I’ve been meaning to rattle this review off for a few days but I’ve been struggling for time. Then I spotted that the album’s out in a couple of weeks so kicked myself up the arse to get it done! I actually bumped into Bull-Riff Stampede as they were recovering from a very heavy night after playing at Les-Fest (now Wildfire) a couple of years back. Finally, I get the opportunity to listen to some of their music!
Enraging the Beast is the second album from the Bristolian noise-merchants, following on from 2012’s Scatter the Ground. While branded a thrash act, they’ve got a heavy take on the genre so expect something a little more brutal rather than just fast-paced. The one thing they do have is hooks, and titular opener “Enraging the Beast” is a fine example. After a long building intro, it’s straight in with stomping kick-drums and picks being slid down guitar necks before four year’s-worth of album writing fury is unleashed.
Vocalist David Garnett has gone for the harsher style of vocals with a voice like a witch cursing you through a mouthful of slime-coated razor blades – more Zetro than Belladona. The sound is definitely a bit bass-y creating a nice thump as the album plays through without being mushy at all.
“Mindless Heresy” kicks off at the kind of pace the previous track worked its way up to, and maintains it for some time before a slower, but still intense, break around the three-minute mark. Which doesn’t last, before the neck-snapping begins again.
“4125” is the first track to really try anything experimental, and that’s the very interesting intro with some nice bass and a staccato rhythm. Garnett’s vocals are a bit deeper at the start of the track (or did they drag in a guest?) which suits this song well.
The whole album rattles through like an out of control train. Going downhill. With a rocket engine at the back. For every little break to throw in a screwball riff or build the atmosphere before kicking things off again there’s a longer section of sweat-inducing pace that will have you exhausted simply listening to it.
This isn’t so much a modern-day classic thrash album, it’s more like a re-imagining of the old Bay Area sound taking in more contemporary influences. The breakneck speed and anger is there, but there’s an edge of extreme or death metal in there to make it that little bit more dangerous.
Rest assured that Bull-Riff Stampede aren’t suffering from “second album blues”. Enraging the Beast has been worth the wait and I’m sure the songs will go down a storm live, too.
Stand-out tracks include the opener and the closer, “Lone Ember” as well as “Bite The Nail (Reborn)” for its great run of Slayer-esque guitar solos.
Enraging the Beast is out on July 13th and you can pre-order it from their Pledge page.