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Demo Review: Torpedo – Mechanic Tyrants

If I may, I’d like to peel back the curtain a little bit and show you peasants what it’s like to write for a website like this.  When it comes to obtaining promos to write about, anywhere I’ve written in the past will have the owner/webmaster or a senior editor post up big batches of what they received. Then the flunkies like me get to jump up like catfish on the water’s surface and beg for the albums we want.  I’m a bit of a wild card (and an idiot), so I like choosing one I actually want to do, plus a request for a rando.  Just chuck something at me, anything, I’ll give it a try and see what happens.  This time, my editor said, “I want to hear your thoughts on Torpedo,” and I internally screeched.  This is the one I didn’t want to do.  I am so tired of the fashion bands that dress up in a headbanger costume and write reheated leftovers of a forty-year-old style with no new ideas of their own.  Hopefully, it’s becoming clear that I love watching metal’s evolution in real-time, I adore following the current innovators to see what bold new direction they can take a style of music that used to be about bucking all the rules.  The last god damned thing I want is another one of the thousands of bands that just colors inside the lines.

So with that in mind, take it as one hell of a ringing endorsement when I say that Torpedo absolutely kicks ass.  I eat crow more often than bread nowadays because my honest assessment of Mechanic Tyrants is that it sounds like a lost early 80s speed metal classic instead of a group of inexperienced kids ripping off their idols with impunity.  This is the exact thing a throwback should be if you’re going to do it.  Don’t write uninspired shit that tries to be good via the transitive property of sounding like something that was already good years before, instead write a temporally-displaced anomaly that somehow didn’t see release until decades after it was written.  The latter is something that Torpedo excels at because this is all the sleaze and brashness of late 70s/early 80s Motorhead blended with the unhinged lunacy of Canadian speed metal-like Exciter and Razor.  This is nothing you haven’t heard before, but just like contemporary juggernauts like Visigoth, Traveler, and Enforcer, Torpedo is bursting at the seams with the same youthful vigor that made the early 80s such a fertile time for metal in the first place.  They’re coloring inside the lines here, yes, but they’re really fucking good at shading, okay?

This runs through every 80s metal cliche you can imagine, from the raucous and ripping opener, “Maniac” to the obligatory mid-paced singalong in “Sons of Evil.”  If Saxon did it, so does Torpedo.  But unlike Pulver or something, this is loaded with energy, and even the less fast parts make me want to hop on a hog and peel out into the sunset.  There isn’t a weak track in the bunch.  “Idiocracy” takes a little too long to get to the point, but the point is so explosive and exciting that it winds up being a satisfying buildup.  “Wrath of God” is pretty similar to the other three fast tracks before it, but the main riff is a fucking scorcher, and I love the little bass lick preceding the solo.  Goddammit all six songs totally smoke and try as I might to find a reason to knock this below an A score (simply because I don’t like giving so many) I just can’t find a reason to do so.  This is everything I loved about Enforcer in their prime if a bit less dazzling and theatrical.  Yeah, okay, so maybe Flo isn’t a super phenomenal vocalist, but he does the speed metal thing so well that he never detracts.  He isn’t a comical nuisance like the guys from Seax or Riot City, nor is he a dull bore like the guy from Pulver.  He’s got just the right amount of grit to keep his vocals interesting despite his somewhat limited range, and he sounds like a rough-and-tumble drifter who picks his teeth with a switchblade.  A bad vocalist hurts trad/speed metal more than any other genre, and the mere fact that Torpedo avoids that pitfall puts them above a good chunk of their contemporaries alone.

If I keep going, I’ll repeat myself, so I’ll wrap it up with the statement that if you enjoy Exciter, there’s nothing not to love about Torpedo.  Mechanic Tyrants is the perfect example of a good throwback metal band, and I wish more groups that explicitly retread old ground wrote songs as exciting and hooky as they do.  I mean hell, the title track starts off with two riffs that are basically identical in every way. But, the way they present them makes it go from a decent utilitarian trad metal riff to a scorching speed metal barnburner.  They just fuckin’ rule.

Mechanic Tyrants was originally released independently on June 18th, 2019, but is being reissued by Gates of Hell Records on February 21st, 2020.  The versions are identical apart from the cover art but you can hear the original now on the band’s Bandcamp or pre-order the reissue from the Cruz del Sur shop.

Editor Grade

A

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