Austrian veterans Speed Limit have been around in one form or another, off and on, since 1979; New effort Cut A Long Story Shirt is their fifth full-length studio offering in that time, but the band have struggled to make much headway outside of their homeland, possibly because they have failed to establish a real identity for themselves in that time due to the sheer number of musicians who have passed through the band in that time, revolving around the constant presence of bassist Chris Pawlak.
Talking of identity, it’s also a problem throughout this new album, as the band, broadly a hard rock-tinged eighties metal band, flit between styles. Second track New Horizon attempts to inject some Queen-styled pomp into proceedings, not entirely successfully, whilst successor cut Eye On You kicks off with some prime Scorpionsesque riffage before losing focus and ending up sounding like a Helloween offcut.
Similarly, The Lady Is On Fire starts out like a bluesy party rocker before morphing into a pomped-up slab of eighties Euro metal, replete with charging rhythms and slashing leads. It’s all a tad disorientating…
Still, when they get things right, as they do on the splendid, serpentine heavy rock of Notorious, Speed Limit really do sound like the real deal. Everything clicks into place here – the massed ranks of backing vocals, Hannes Vordermayer‘s tricky drumwork (he also sings lead vocals throughout) and the excellent axes of Chris Angerer and Joe Elder all combine to present the band in their best light. As it goes, that light turns out to be a sort of late seventies powerpop-meets-metal mix that is pretty hard to resist. I’d love to hear the band stretching out more in this direction moving forward.
The back end is filled with some old classics and studio outtakes, which may add value for long term fans, but is unlikely to be anything more than a curiosity for the less committed. But if you enjoy old school Euro power metal – Helloween is perhaps the most constant presence throughout the album – then there’s probably enough here to make this worthy of your attention.
Cut A Long Story Short releases on June 16th.