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Bodies burning everywhere. - 68%

GrizzlyButts, June 8th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Shadow Kingdom Records

‘Fun’ metal just isn’t my thing. If you make constant jokes in reviews, I’ll stop reading. If you parody shit, I’ll stop buying albums. If I see a band having fun in a video or engaging in dorky in-crowd banter on social media, I’ll probably think twice about attending that show. Why? Never giving into the ‘dad joke’ spectrum of heavy metal will keep you much sharper as the decades pass by. Speed metal, specifically the retro-revisionist style that has propped itself with some strength in the last two decades, is too often a ‘fun’ sort of metal experience that gets a pass for its moderately competitive musical standards. Looking back on the decade long build-up towards their fourth full-length it’d seem that Worcester, Massachusetts speed metal militia Seax have found a golden ratio for their sound that balances their beer-chuggin, ‘flaming bag of poop’ metal-punk spirit with a tighter thrashing performance. They riff more and faster, they shout more and louder.

Formed in 2009 by guitarist Hel (Helgrid, ex-Infernal Devotion, ex-Zircon) Seax would soon include members of Ravage; Ties to that big-sister band remain today as guitarist Nick Izzo provided bass on ‘Fallout Rituals’ after bassist Razzle switched to guitars following the exit of longtime member (and founding Ravage guitarist) Eli Firicano (Iron Will). Seax began as a decidedly easygoing punkish speed metal band with their debut full-length ‘High on Metal (2012) which featured a yet-unseasoned Carmine DeCiccio (ex-Raging Fire) on vocals, who exited to form Black Sabre around 2013. The bands sound would change drastically when second vocalist Steve McArdle (Sküll Hammer) stepped in for ‘To the Grave’ (2014). Though the guitar work would begin to tighten and improve at this point McArdle‘s vocals were flat in a bad MD.45 sort of way, that’d brought the identity of the band into question at that point. Thankfully DeCiccio would return for ‘Speed Metal Mania’ (2016) and the Seax sound would truly solidify and begin to develop with some room for improvement. For my own standards ‘Fallout Rituals’ is the first repeatable and effective release from the band that reaches above stock-standard fare in terms of musical personality and much of that comes from the shrieking affect of DeCiccio.

Since you’d be leagues in the wrong direction taking Ravage as a cue for Seax‘ current sound I’d take a world tour in terms of their fellow Exciter influenced speed-metallers in such as Gatekrashör, Ranger‘s ‘Speed & Violence’ and Toxik Attack along with some basic shared attributes with Sentinel Beast, S.D.I., and early Razor. Depending on your taste that’ll all sound pretty standard but I think DeCiccio‘s vocals, combined with a much more powerful production sound, nearly provide that extra bump that made Dark Angel‘s ‘We Have Arrived’ and Exodus‘ debut stand out. The gang-shouted vocals, burps, shrieks and wails all amount to a good time but ‘Fallout Rituals’ ultimately sounds like a speed metal band that are consciously fighting the urge to go full-bore party thrash.

If you were to drop into any single track on ‘Fallout Rituals’ you’d likely be satisfied as I was in previewing a few random cuts. Sharp guitar tone, shrieking vocals, a little bit of that punkish Municipal Waste-core chunk, and some well placed gang-shouts all serve to dress up very basic structures with tension and punkish abandon. “Winds of Atomic Death” is a great example of this with its basic late 80’s hardcore progression that comes in fists flinging and DeCiccio in fine form, in fact this was one of my initial highlights until I’d spun through about 4-5 fill listens and it began to blur together with the majority of the tracks on the album, which feature similar pace and riff approach but are differentiated by solos, vocal effects and different sorts of breaks into intensity. By the time “Riders of the Oldworld” cranks the speed right towards the end it begins to feel like half the songs on the album do this and as a result it all mushed together into a pretty standard spin.

There are some moderately catchy songs here that save the experience just as it begins to sound polished and rote. I’d point towards “Interceptor” as an effective track once it hits beyond the first minute, most any classic speed metal fan will be pleased enough with the energetic style and wild vocal work that highlights “Killed by Speed” and “Rituals”. How the rest of the album will stick in your mind might depend on how you feel about classic speed metal versus newer interpretations of it, I felt a great deal of ‘Fallout Rituals’ was numbingly repetitive but not offensive for it. Moderate recommendation, might’ve sounded like I was ragging on ’em but Seax are a good time and this is their best record to date. For preview “Rituals” is an exciting entry point, and “Winds of Atomic Death” should provide some motivation to see how they deal with variation from there.


Speeeeeeeeeeeeeeed Metal - 88%

SweetLeaf95, April 5th, 2019

There’s nothing like coming across straight up, honest speed metal; not thrash, not NWOBHM, but speed metal right down to the last note. Shadow Kingdom Records are delivering the fourth album by Massachusetts headbangers Seax titled Fallout Rituals. There isn’t a tag better suited, because no slow moments make an appearance throughout the entire run of this record.

Musically, it’s exactly what you’re picturing; fast-picked notes, pummeling drum beats, screeching solos and high pitched vocals. It isn’t as cut and dry as that, and Seax thankfully isn’t just a run-of-the-mill Exciter worship band. The layers of the riffs are laid out stupendously, giving a lot of life to something that isn’t drenched in intricacy. See “Killed By Speed” with how it introduces us to the twin rhythm attack, as well as delivering dual solos back and forth.

Working in its favor, Fallout Rituals is also produced perfectly. Every instrument comes through to just the right level, allowing this stellar guitar work to own the forefront. Moreover, the bass is very audible and can almost be felt in songs like “Feed The Reaper,” especially since this tune leads in relying heavily on the bass. Best of all, Seax have a good ear for melody which helps give the songs their own identities, if the gang-vocal choruses didn’t do that already.

On the other hand, there is one big roadblock to get through. The vocalist has such a high pitched, almost screechy style of singing that it’s extremely difficult to get into. First time hearing this, I didn’t even like the album, but after a couple of spins, it grew on me. “Rituals” makes this obvious right from the get-go, but since there are passages of lower toned vocal onslaughts, and help with the backup singing, I can forgive it.

The best thing to walk away with is to focus on the music itself because all of it is very well crafted from start to finish. If you can get past cringy singing styles that aren’t subtle in the slightest, then this is the ideal disc for any and all speed metal seekers. Even the lyrics are pretty standard for this genre, touching on speed itself and fearful creatures. Without a doubt, the spin is very much worth your time.

Originally written for Indy Metal Vault