Second Sight (Palm)
by Brian Varney
I always kinda avoided these guys based solely on the name and on word-of-mouth, both of which indicated Speedealer were not my kinda thing, i.e. a speed-garage-punk band that kills whatever cool ideas they might have by playing everything too damn fast ala Zeke. So imagine my surprise when I popped this in and out comes a reasonable sonic facsimile of Kill ‘Em All. The tempos are fast but not blinding and everything is smothered in the sandpaper-dry ca-chunk ca-chunk rhythm guitar sound that is now indelibly connected with headbanging (in my house, anyway). Like I said, I hadn’t heard these guys before, so I began to wonder if the band’s earlier stuff sounded the same. The folks I talked to, though, advised me otherwise. And none of ’em seems too pleased about the change.
It’s easy to try and place the blame for the change upon the shoulders of producer Jason Newsted. Y’know, the Metallica dude plops his butt into the producer’s chair and, blam, out pops a Metallica soundalike. “OK, you guys ready? Fuckin’ ‘Whiplash’! Hit it!”
I know, I know, it probably seems like I’m making a really big deal out of the Metallica thing, but I dare you to listen to the second, third, and fourth tracks on here and not think of Kill ‘Em All. It really is that obvious. And, hey, there are worse things than emulating early Metallica, right? By all logic, this should be a really good album. But it isn’t.
The production is plenty metal, but the songs belie the depth of the band’s punk background. And while a punk background isn’t necessarily a bad thing (hell, there’s plenty of punk influence on the early Metallica records), it can’t be the only influence in this sort of setting, lest the whole thing collapse. Speedealer wanna be metal, but they sound like punks play-acting at being metal. The songs sound like slowed-down punk songs dressed up in metal costumes, a weight they can’t handle, and everything crashes into a jagged heap.
All writerly devices aside, Second Sight is a mess. I give ’em credit for trying to expand their sonic pallet, but as things stand right now, Speedealer just don’t have a credible metal album in ’em. A halfway point between Metallica and Bad Brains sounds like a good idea, but this ain’t it. Maybe next time…
(601 W. 26th St. 11th Floor New York, NY 10001)