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Review: Ramming Speed’s Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die Comfortably Plays All Sides

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Punk vs. metal. I’m old — there was a time when you stayed in one camp and looked warily at the other. The West Bank of music, as it were. Skirmishes abounded. Common ground? Maybe you threw out DRI as a talking point. But then a band like Corrosion of Conformity or Suicidal Tendencies would go too far one way, and…

So quaint now. Take Ramming Speed. The Boston band (although soon to be Richmond natives, perhaps to avoid the stain of New England metalcore) love their 80s thrash. But also their hardcore. Their punk. Their NWOBHM. This is a band comfortably playing all sides, and coming out looking the better for it.

Sure, they look like heshers, and more than once on their second full-length Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die (most notably on “Dead Flags” and the title track) you’ll swear it’s the second coming of Maiden.

But there’s a visceral charge underneath the band’s assault. A rapid fire of guttural thoughts and musical ideas, as if RS was operating more on a gut feeling than technical precision. A more punk side to their fury, as it were. So if the group lacks the precision of its metal forebears, they’re better off for it.

Converge’s Kurt Ballou captures that mood nicely; faced with the band’s diametrically opposed forces, he plays it loose. He allows a groove — outside of pure burners like “The Rhetoric of Hate” — and real some surprises. “Hollow Giants” is a slow churn, full of melody even as it grows: credit due here to singer Peter Gallagher (side note: LOVED him on “The O.C.”)  “Anthems of Despair” is the hardcore anthem, while “Extinction Event” and album highlight “Under the Monolith” show of the Maiden/Priest duel-guitar theatrics.

Again, nothing new here, but it’s exciting when all the disparate, volatile parts come together, no? Just like Israel! Actually…nothing like Israel.

Ramming Speed’s Doomed to Die, Destined to Destroy comes out June 25 on Prosthetic. You can stream the track “Grinding Dissent” here and pre-order the album here.

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