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'Untouchable Glory'
(AFM Records)
Out now

Johnny Main
johnny main

gama bomb

Northern Irish quintet Gama Bomb, were formed in Newry in 2002 and return with their fifth studio album and their second for AFM Records, showing that British Thrash Metal is well and truly alive – and it’s in safe hands too.

School friends Joe McGuigan and Philly Byrne, bass guitarist and vocalist respectively, were founder members of the band in 2002. They soon built up a small but loyal around the Belfast area, and they consolidated this with a rigorous touring schedule and a spate of self-released recordings.

The band first gained attention through their 2002 demo ‘The Survival Option’ before releasing the ‘Fatal Mission’ single in 2003.

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In late 2005, during preparations for their debut full length album, band changes were on the horizon as one of the then guitarists and the drummer left the band.

They quickly recruited Paul Caffrey to fill the vacant drum stool while Domo Dixon took on lead guitar duties. The subsequent album, titled ‘Survival of the Fastest’ came out in early 2006, and the band undertook a UK tour along with Mutant and Deceptor dubbed ‘The Insane Quest for Flesh Tour’ to promote it.

In September 2007, Gama Bomb announced that they had signed a recording contract with Earache Records, with whom they released the ‘Citizen Brain’ in 2008 but the partnership wasn’t destined to last.

In summer 2009, the band played on the main stages at Hellfest in France and Tuska Open Air in Finland alongside Mötley Crüe, WASP, Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies and they later toured Europe supporting Exodus and Overkill.

The band eventually returned to the studio in August 2009 to work on their third album, ‘Tales from the Grave in Space’ which was scheduled for release later that year.

In a genuinely groundbreaking move, the band announced in September 2009 that ‘Tales from the Grave in Space’ would be made available absolutely free as a download, making them the first Metal band to release an album free while still signed to a record label.

After the release of the album, further tours followed in 2010 including supporting Sepultura on their UK Tour and along with Overkill, Forbidden and DRI, they also played a clutch of shows in North America.

The band had a relatively quiet couple of years when they parted ways with Earache Records and it wasn’t until April 2013 that the band announced they’d signed with AFM Records for whom they would record 2013s ‘Terror Tapes’ album.

After another quiet couple of years, the band now feel they’re ready to release their brand new album, ‘Untouchable Glory’, again on the AFM imprint.

The twelve track album has a running time of just over of half an hour, which may be seen by some to be a little short, but it’s absolutely jam packed with catchy tunes.

If you take ‘Ninja Untouchables/Untouchable Glory’, which kicks the whole thing off, you’ve got the razor sharp guitar riff slicing its way through the song and a great shouty chorus that’s just so infectious you can’t help but sing along. The guitar solo from Dixon is technical and very well executed while it sounds like Caffrey is using every drum at his disposal in a very articulate display.

Likewise, ‘Tuck Your T-Shirt In’ has another shouty chorus which could provide some audience interaction during a live show, but before you even get to that, McGuigan’s contribution is placed very much to the fore with his bass rhythms during the relatively quiet intro before the tempo really picks up.

gama bomb

Deviating from the loud shouty choruses are the more laid back verses which act as a good counterpoint. It was clear after repeated listening that this song especially would make it onto my November play list and I can see it staying there for some time to come.

As far as fast tempos go, it really doesn’t get much faster than ‘Avenge Me!’ which sounds like Byrne may be struggling to keep up with the frantic tempo. It’s Caffrey who sets the pace here, and it’s a ferocious beat that he creates too.

Some of Byrne’s vocal lines are obscured due to some post-production effects, but this is a small criticism for an otherwise great song – and another one that’s just crying out for some audience participation during a live show.

‘She Thing’ meanwhile is a classic Thrash song from start to finish. From the incredible riff at the top, to the cymbal work leading in to the vocals it’s a one hundred and thirty second rollercoaster ride. Byrne’s vocals sound like a cross between Blaze Bayley and Rob Halford at times as he gives his performance absolutely everything and the sudden stop comes all too quickly.

The shortest song here by far is ‘James Joints’ at just under a minute in length, and it’s no secret what the songs about. As with all the best Thrash numbers, the drummer punches out the straightforward snare drum beat like he’s wired to a metronome while the singer puts in a great performance with the lyrics. There’s a small respite during the chorus (and a catchy chorus “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, Joint, Joint, Joint”) but it’s over and done in the blink of an eye.

It’s fair to say that the band have worked hard on getting the very best material for the album and if this is an indication of their best work then I’m more than happy to recommend this to anyone who likes Thrash.

Bands like Gama Bomb, Shrapnel and Evile keep coming up with the goods in the studio and live on stage, and it’s these bands who are keeping British Thrash alive and well, and they should be applauded for that.

You can see the official video for ‘Ninja Untouchables/Untouchable Glory’ here:

You can see Gama Bomb live here:
Friday 11th – Saturday 12th December – Effenaar Grote Zaal, Eindhoven

‘Untouchable Glory’ Track List:
Ninja Untouchables/Untouchable Glory
Avenge Me!
Drinkers, Inc.
My Evil Eye
Tuck Your T-Shirt In
Ride the Night
She Thing
Witching Mania
James Joints
Raging Skies
I Will Haunt You
After the Fire

Gama Bomb are:
Philly Byrne – Vocals
Domo Dixon – Lead Guitar
John Roche – Rhythm Guitar
Joe McGuigan – Bass Guitar/Vocals
Paul Caffrey – Drums

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