Speedwhore – Visions of a Parallel World Review

Many o’ bands are flying the old colors of Celtic Frosty black/speed/thrash these days. Some have taken it up a notch and given new life to the sound (Hellripper), while others choose to keep it raw and rugged (Deathhammer). Germany’s Speedwhore exists in the latter category. The band’s 2015 debut record, The Future Is Now, is a predictable platter of one-dimensional black/thrash riffs with gravelly vocals and the occasional Slayer pig squeal. That album flowed like one thirty-eight-minute track, barely allowing you to process a song before throwing you into the next. Eight years later, the band returns with a new outing in the form of Visions of a Parallel World. The rawness is still there, but the production puts the vocals lower in the mix, the guitars to the top, and the dynamics pleasing to the ear. The only thing that remains is the songwriting. Will Visions of a Parallel World secure that sophomore legacy and push the band forward?

On initial listen, yes. Just three songs in, and this new platter of piss-stained thrash has more substance than the whole of The Future Is Now. While “Matriarch” isn’t the most unique black/trash opener, the album’s production lets the Slayer-esque squeals and guitar licks rise above the inevitable muck those pounding drums would create with a more-compressed master. Unlike the debut record, the vocals are in a lower register, adding a real sinisterness to the band’s songwriting style. But “Matriarch” is only the beginning—for Visions of a Parallel World is one of those albums that builds steam as it goes.

But it’s not all slimy black/thrash on this new record. “Lion’s Gate” and “Hologram” set aside the thrash in favor of more traditional heavy metal riffage. This they combine with gnarly rasps and low growls, producing variation yet heard from the band. “Hologram” is like a blackened Iron Maiden track that Dickinson would never touch. Pushing the bass further and further to the front of the mix, this little beauty gallops along like the dreaded Four Horsemen. “Golgotha” is another number that grooves hard, introducing various vocal arrangments and backing emphases. The vocals are all over the place, but the building riffs make one erect, and the bass work makes one erupt.

As the album explores ’80s trash riffs, clean guitar work, and melodic elements, the closer is the wild culmination of it all. “Visions of a Parallel World” is so far in left field that it took me a while to appreciate it for what it is. It’s a Magic Mountain rollercoaster ride in the truest form. After watching those cute little unicorns slowly circle above your head, calming atmospheres swirling in your earholes, Speedwhore rips you from the cradle like the string on a charcoal bag. At one point, you’re back in the early ’90s as the Mayhem-sharp riffs fillet you. At another, you’re flying 100 mph through a wash of mesquite thorns that, for some reason, yell at you like the Crisix vocalist. Then, all is calm again. That’s until the band strings your intestines to a guitar and chugs on them with relentless badassery. And each time you feel relief is around the corner, the band reminds you that you’re an idiot, leaving you in a pool of blood and pulp.

As one would expect, Speedwhore ain’t here to change your mind about how this genre works. They will show you it can still be nasty without being Abigail, Midnight, or Aura Noir. Sometimes you can drop a messy load on an old-school riff or create a nearly eight-minute-long song to mindfuck you into oblivion. And an album of this caliber shouldn’t be reduced to DR5 to appreciate it for what it’s worth. Back to our original question, Speedwhore has definitely found the direction they want to proceed. Visions of a Parallel World is far superior to the debut in almost every way. Therefore, I have no choice but to award them one point above what I’d rate The Future Is Now. So, if you like raw, disgusting, blackened thrash with a few Easter eggs to discover, put this in you.

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