Northern Ireland’s crown jesters of the thrash revival are back, and it’s business as usual for the greasy 80s-wannabes, with their sixth album in 16 years built on pretty much the exact same foundations as the five before it – as fast and daft as possible; neck-wrecking speed is king; ballads less welcome than a Cultural Sensitivity Consultant on the set of the new Rambo film. Kicking off with the heavy metal majesty of Give Me Leather, the first thing that’s very apparent is Gama Bomb have been listening to a lot of Judas Priest since we last met, maybe nothing else, with Philly’s NWOBHM wail very much back in the fold after injuring his voice a few years ago. Neither band nor singer stop for breath once on Speed Between The Lines (which is just the way it should be, of course), giving the album a touch of the original thrash scene, when everyone was clambering to be faster than everyone else. 666teen, Bring Out The Monster and Motorgeist keep the fires raging, the latter, somewhat unsurprisingly given it’s name, throwing a welcome lump of Overkill-era Motorhead on the flames, but in the second half, things go ever so slightly awry, becoming, dare we say it, a little safe.
Gama Bomb albums, and thrash albums in general (especially the boardshorts end of the deal) should be cut-off denim and supercars, flailing about and sticking their arses out the window at every opportunity, and that’s largely what we get on side one, but side two feels somewhat tame in comparison, like a Top Shop Bon Jovi shirt and a BMW M3. It’s fast, fun, reliable and gets you where you need to be, but you can’t put the top down, and when you want the back end to spin wildly up onto the pavement and coat the “squares” in exhaust fumes and shame, it does exactly as promised and sticks firmly between the lines. Perversely, by not going the full distance on the back six, the band give proceedings a faint whiff of the parody band. It’s by no means a problem yet, and there’s still more than enough fun to be had in a track like Kurt Russell and it’s “I’ll be Tango, you be Cash” chorus, but nonetheless, it does feel like a dangerous first step towards a twilight performing at Butlins with Evil Scarecrow and Alestorm.
Speed Between The Lines is released 12 October via AFM Records