Release date: October 30, 2015
Ah, the 1980s. Aqua Net, Smurfs, Care Bears and speed metal. That crossover between thrash and punk that was birthed from the collective womb of bands like Megadeth and Metallica has gone unnoticed in the past few years. That’s where Gama Bomb comes in. The Irish band’s fifth full length release, Untouchable Glory, is pure speed metal heaven. How speed metal is it? If you can imagine Motorhead covering Metallica’s “Creeping Death” or Slayer’s “Angel of Death” (really, I guess any metal song with “death” in the title will do) that’s how amazingly, gloriously speed metal Gama Bomb is. Lightning fast guitars and ear blistering drums are worn like a badge on honor on Untouchable Glory.
Gama Bomb sets a frantic pace on the opening track of this release and doesn’t let up until all 12 songs have run their course. Don’t expect to hear any ballads, keyboards or acoustic guitars. This is a metal album, and Gama Bomb are purists. Songs like “Avenge Me” are full of the kind of racing riffs that a young Dave Mustaine might have created for early Megadeth releases. “My Evil Eye” is a similarly high quality speed fest. Vocalist Philly Byrne has a surprisingly melodic voice, and eschews metal clichés like piercing screams or dark growls to add a smooth flow to these otherwise gruff songs. The band joins him with some uber-masculine gang vocals, and most choruses are sing along hooks, a testament to the band’s songwriting prowess.
Lyrically there is an element of fun to the songs Gama Bomb presents on this album. “Tuck Your T-Shirt In” is tongue in cheek in a way that brings to mind 80s humor metal masters Scatterbrain or, for a more current reference, Psychostick. Just look at the kung fu movie poster style album cover and it’s pretty clear that this band isn’t about haranguing the listener with bold political statements. Instead we’re treated to a nerdgasm of pop culture references and will placed puns. Songs like “She-Thing” and “Witching Mania” are geeky fun in a pummeling metal package. I laughed out loud the first time I heard “Avenge Me” quote the movie Young Frankenstein, with Byrne singing “destiny, destiny, no escaping that for me.” Laughable, yes, but these memorable, humorous moments circle around the brain, begging for one more listen to these songs.
Metal is a genre that more often than not takes itself too seriously. Even bands that have an obvious schtick stick to it like its gospel truth. Gama Bomb rises to the top of the genre by mixing top notch musicianship with a sense of fun. Fans of classic thrash albums will hear bits of Anthrax , Megadeth and Slayer, among others. This band skates a fine line between classic thrash and modern hardcore, and does so with a cocksure attitude and a healthy sense of humor. Speed metal is back, thanks to Gama Bomb, and in bringing it back, they’ve also set the new standard.
Reviewed by Jim 1340