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On the one hand, I do not like very much these fun metal bands. They think their lyrics are jokey, but usually they are just idiotic, stupid and, in the worst case, sexist and imbecile. On the other hand, I have to admit that some of the "serious" outpourings of many metal bands piss me off, too. Just think of the embarrassing poetry of bands such as Manowar or Sabaton. Thus, I appreciate less serious lyrics from time to time. (And to be honest: some songs of the here presented full-length do not dramatize funny topics.) However, it´s always a question of the music in which the more or less amusing lyrics are embedded. Gama Bomb´s first albums were pretty nice without having the chance to enter the hall of fame of my private collection. But "The Terror Tapes" is different. Firstly, I was worried because of the album´s name. I thought that they would publish some clumsy rehearsal tapes in order to make a quick profit. But the all clear can be given. We are talking about twelve brand new tracks. And the best is yet to come, these infectious thrash metal masterpieces will make your head bang.
Although "The Terror Tapes" already represents the fourth full-length, the Gama crew has still the charm and the boyish recklessness of newcomers. The musicians give full speed and perform the majority of the songs in a breathtaking velocity. While keeping an eye on catchy choruses ("Terrorscope") and stirring bridges ("We Started the Fire"), they do not neglect the basic principles of thrash metal. But it gets even better. The album delivers more than a handful of highlights. But even if compared with the other killer tracks, two dizzy eruptions stand out. The extremely fast "Beverly Hills Robocop" shines with stormy riffs and hilarious lyrics. Inter alia, the mentioned robot contributes four lines. Regardless of the fact that he has been killed, he tells us that he wants to "party like it´s 1985". Fantastic idea, I want to be a teenager again. Lead vocalist Philly Byrne has also great intentions and wants to murder his boss. Isn´t that what we all dream of? But I do not want to waste many words about that. Maybe my boss reads this review in the distant future. So let´s focus on the second brilliant tune. "The Cannibals Are in the Streets - All Flesh Must Be Eaten", also extremely fast performed, does not only score with its conclusive title and the expressive lead vocals. Of course, the raging riffs build once again the backbone, but you should also listen closely to the song´s fantastic bridge and its unsurpassable chorus. You will recognize some of the most dynamic guitar lines ever.
Despite of the musical hurricane, there is still time for wise advices. "You must take a shit in your trousers or you will never see your family again." Okay, now we know exactly what we have to do - or what we have to avoid. I guess, it depends on your family. My decision remains a secret. But let´s go on to the next point, because maybe my wife also reads this review in the distant future.
Two short comical yet thrashy outbursts demonstrate that the buffoons from Northern Ireland are still not afraid to break with the conventions of the genre. However, they are intelligent enough to offer only two of these caricatures of a thrash song. Other tunes like "Backwards Bible" also possess funny elements. But they do not focus exclusively on tomfoolery so that the album works as a halfway serious output. This is also due to the flawless sound of the full-length. Its transparency and sharpness refine the songs while giving them the last kick. Therefore, Gama Bomb catapult their music on the highest level. In view of its effervescent liveliness, "The Terror Tapes" is a quantum leap compared with their previous outputs. I would even go so far as to say that it seems to be their unofficial best of-album. But let´s see what the future will bring. If the spirited band is able to preserve its enthusiasm as well as its fine sense of humor, we can hope that more fascinating albums are yet to come.
Gama Bomb isn't known as a very 'mature' band. Maturity surely not is their claim to fame. However after their first 3 albums, some variety was needed. While their third album (Tales from the Grave in Space) was good and fun, it lacked a sense of variety in it's overall sound. Gama Bomb has finally decided to get some bigger boy pants on. They then took the scissors and cut off the bottom of those pants. In 'short', they matured only a little. However it was enough.
Lyrically, they've matured vastly in both genre and writing. Sadly the zombies are gone. But that's hardly a detraction when they already have enough zombie related songs to make a full album with. They actually brandish 'intelligence' with their song Matrioshka Brain. A subject matter that I had no idea about until I listened to this song. Thanks Gama Bomb. You actually taught me something!
As for their sound, this is the best produced album they've made. Their previous album was fine and good, but the back end of it was a tad bit clouded. They've simply fixed that here. The only issue to possibly be found is the vocals. Philly Byrne unfortunately had a surgery on his vocal chords before recording this album. He can still sing as well as ever... except with hitting the high notes. There aren't really any attempts to even do so. I don't blame him. But those high notes he could hit did add an extra element of silliness which I will both miss and can do without.
To summarize, is this Gama Bomb's best album? Yes. Hands down. While not as 'fun' overall as Citizen Brain (which was just mayhem), this does offer the most variety that altogether makes for a more complete album experience. Other than the ridiculously short songs purely for comedic purposes, every song has a purpose. It is in no way a concept album, however this is certainly much easier to enjoy overall than Citizen Brain.
General Score: B-
This is pretty darn friendly to casual metal fans and possibly a good place for non-metal fans to jump in and enjoy. While not nearly the best introduction into the genre, it does showcase several good elements that their previous albums haven't touched. This album is still fast but also a bit more groovy than their previous offerings.
Personal Score: A
Much like other Gama Bomb stuff, I listen to it quite frequently. Maybe even more than some other albums that I would rate even higher. However, I can't give it an A+. Gama Bomb's albums are really fun to listen to, I just cant rank them amongst my absolute favorites. I really hope they continue down this path though. I certainly respect the hell out of them.