You might look at the cover of Outline’s first EP and picture some grueling pit of fuming riffs and harsh vocals, and you would be wrong. Fire Whiplash is a raw slice of speed metal with no extra toppings or anything to garnish it up. Coming in just over the twenty-minute mark, the basic approach proves worthwhile since it makes its statement and sees itself out.
Considering that this is another mastering by Toxic Holocaust’s very own Joel Grind, it should come as no surprise when opening the box and finding a grainy, static-like overcast. The riffing foundation takes precedence over everything because of that, laying down the fast rhythms while dropping in more traditional breaks from time to time. The main line of fire does cause the solos to wane out a bit, but you can still find them pressed into the cracks; this honestly works out better anyway. I also love that the bass tag-teams with it, making itself felt for the entire release.
For such a one-dimensional release that focuses on speed, Fire Whiplash did a solid job at incorporating a little bit of melody. “Lady Teaser” is easily the biggest standout in that regard, and the solid songwriting foundation certainly helped it out. The same can be said about “Away From You,” building itself off steadier rhythms and clearer vocals. The vocals themselves are very much an acquired taste, boasting some whining-type outbursts, but it fits the aesthetic quite well. On the flip side, they too get more buried in the abrasive numbers, such as in the fuming neck-breaker “Black Eyed Devil,” and the harsh closer “Hell Squad.” The latter of the two has tons of attitude.
The Cleveland, Ohio duo, known as Outline give us a very promising start to what they’re all about. This is on the gritty end of the speed metal spectrum. If you took an Enforcer record and scratched the hell out of the surface with sandpaper, without any precision or careful finishing, this would be what you end up with. Anyone that craves speed-riffing that’s dried out to the max should give this a whirl.