Speedtrap are a five-piece speed metal band from Lappeenranta, Finland that formed in 2007. To date they have released a demo, an EP, a split EP with fellow Finns Death With A Dagger and a full-length, ‘Powerdose’ (2013 – Svart Records), which garnered positive reviews from numerous critics and found its way onto several year-end lists. This fall they are set to release, their second full-length under the Svart banner, ‘Straight Shooter’.
According to guitarist Ville Valavuo, “We started in Lappeenranta, yes, but originally I was the only band member from there. The other members were from small towns surrounding it, and nowadays none of us live there anymore. Currently three of us live in Helsinki and the other two in Joensuu, cities which are quite far apart actually.”
It was this collective isolation that provided early influence and inspiration while their love of all things heavy metal, especially the NWOBHM, provided the rest.
“I would say our physical environment had a bigger influence when we started in 2007. There weren’t any bands like us in Lappeenranta, or even Eastern Finland for that matter, and actually the reason for starting a band like this was that no one else was doing it at the time. I guess it still shows in some way that we’re not from Helsinki. We started as four-piece that was heavily influenced by NWOBHM and early speed metal, but we’ve mixed our sound with hardcore punk and rock ‘n’ roll, so it’s not as NWOBHM-ish anymore.”
For those that are unfamiliar with Speedtrap, Ville says, “We sounds like spinning your classic rock records at 45 rpm with the energy and the in-your-face, keep-it-simple song structures usually found in hardcore punk.
“I think speed metal is the perfect kind of music for Speedtrap since it’s the kind of stuff we like to listen to. Our musical influences come from different sources, and with every record you can sort of spot what we’ve been listening to when writing. The early stuff was pretty straight-forward NWOBHM, the stuff on our split with Death With A Dagger is kind of punk-ish. I suppose everyone in the band has always been listening to stuff like Discharge, Varukers and such, and their energy appealed to everyone. Those two things were taken even further with ‘Powerdose’ and now we’ve got a new album that’s got a bit of everything.
“Probably the most important record for this band has been Diamond Head’s ‘Lightning To The Nations’,” admits Ville. “Listening to early Speedtrap you can hear it had a huge impact on us back then. Other than that we really liked Blood Money’s debut album ‘Red, Raw And Bleeding’. I guess that’s where we got the speed in the first place. Blood Money might be kind of an obscure influence, so people who don’t know them should definitely check them out. They only released two albums in 1986 and 1987, and were probably overshadowed by several more popular bands. These guys might have shown up a bit too late to get their share of the NWOBHM-hype, and then again a bit too raw for the upcoming speed metal scene at the time. If you find their first LP somewhere, get it and give it a spin, you won’t be disappointed. Last but not least, I have to mention a Seattle-based speed rock band Zeke, whose ‘Death Alley’ album pretty much blew us away. You can definitely hear their influence on our records.”
Much like ‘Death Alley’s stark presentation, ‘Straight Shooter’s eight breakneck, high-octane tracks rip. This is straight-up, no-frills, fast and lethal speed metal punctuated by Ville’s and Jaako Hietakangas’s (ex-Ranger) blazing fret work and Jori Sara-aho’s high-pitched vocal delivery.
“‘Straight Shooter’ was recorded in late February and early March 2015,” says Ville. “We recorded the drums and my rhythm guitar tracks live at Astral Studio, Tampere, and overdubbed everything else at Black Floyd’s Analog Studio in Hämeenkyrö a week later. Everything was recorded and mixed with 100 percent analogue equipment. We started writing right after we finished recording ‘Powerdose’, but there was a long break from writing since we were going through some line-up changes. There’s a couple old riffs I wrote a long time ago, but most of the material is new and was written after the first full-length. We were planning on finishing all the songs early before recording the album, but eventually we ran out of time and most of the stuff was finished in the studio. All things considered I think it turned out alright.”
The themes explored on ‘Straight Shooter’ are, according to Ville, “an individual’s determination and the loathing encountered towards it; society’s ever-increasing acts of oppression and the question of whether or not it’s futile to resist; and the construction of a personal barrier against various negative signals from the outside world and how difficult it is to uphold. These are all topics we have sort of grown up with in our personal lives and the various issues we’ve faced during the years.”
The aforementioned line-up changes have proven to be a proverbial trial, but Speedtrap continues undaunted. Jaako’s addition provided not only a creative boost, but also more flexibility.
“Our drummer quit in 2014, and our bass player, Markus Hietamies, who is more of a drummer actually, took over the drums. After that, we had a friend of ours filling in on bass for a bunch of festival appearances before our current bass player, Antti Salminen, joined as a full-time member. Jaakko quit Ranger around the same time as our drummer left, and we thought he’d be a perfect fit for Speedtrap. The sound is way more diverse with two guitars, and it gave us a lot of new opportunities in songwriting.”
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