Album review: Gama Bomb – Bats

Oddball Irish thrashers Gama Bomb flap up a storm of silliness on dependably bonkers eighth album Bats…

Album review: Gama Bomb – Bats
Sam Law

‘We were somewhere around Newry, on the edge of the Irish Republic when the drugs began to take hold,’ you can just imagine Philly Byrne gasping. ‘Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Dublin.’

Of the countless pop-cultural references on Gama Bomb’s gleefully unhinged eighth album, their frontman doesn’t actually riff on Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Crank the volume and close your eyes, though, and Bats exudes exactly the same kind of no-brakes chaos.

By their own admission, see, this is the weirdest album the Irish speedsters have ever made. Having waxed lyrical on everything from robotic crimefighters and their corporate antagonists (Beverly Hills Robocop, OCP) to thrash-fighting fascists old and new (Mussolini Mosh, Alt Reich) over the years – once even penning a banger called Smoke The Blow With Willem Dafoe – that’s really saying something. Yet their indefatigable appetite for clever-stupidity keeps bearing fruit.

I’m so freaky,’ teases retro-futuristic prologue Under The Pyramids. ‘I’m magnificent.’ No word of a lie. Egyptron wears its Fez with pride, breaking up a 100mph onslaught with melodies that’d get the sphinx grooving – and a cheeky verse from Californian hip-hop legend The Egyptian Lover. Speed Funeral imagines the gnarliest goodbye: strapped to a rocket and fired into outer-space. Living Dead In Beverly Hills lifts from Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King, just for the craic.

It’s wild how, even after all these years, these maniacs can still blindside with those moments of goofy genius, but they simply refuse to let anyone within earshot stop grinning. Whether in the big pictures (Don’t Get Your Hair Cut is an affectionate, impossibly well-observed ode to battle-jacketed warriors still trapped in the NWOBHM) or the little details (the tooting sax solo that pushes the climactic Bats In Your Hair utterly over the top) this is an outfit whose understanding of metal lore, old-school cool and sheer banter has yet to let them down. And, two decades down the line, Bats is proof that whatever doesn’t kill Gama Bomb simply makes them stranger.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Anthrax, Municipal Waste, Evile

Bats is out now via Prosthetic

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