Monday, June 30, 2014

Album Review: "Terminal Death" by Terminal Death

Terminal Death
 The golden age of Death Metal.

Well as if there was such a thing, we'll call this a hidden gem from the gilded age of Death Metal's Pre-history.

In a time when Metallica's Kill'Em All was the heaviest album recorded to date, death metal was born.

There was an age that existed before the "wider" world knew of death metal. Before bands like Death, Master, and Carcass had yet to record an album.

This era of the early 1980's is largely forgotten because many of these bands fell through the cracks. Terminal Death is one of those bands.

The 20 tracks on this album up for review was recorded in three sessions: a demo and two rehearsals. In some places, it sounds as though the album was recorded on a boom box with the amplifiers in a circle. I know this sound because I've done it....

Terminal Death
Please accept going in that this album is not going to sound like the death metal records you have heard. It frankly sounds passable at best in parts, and frankly un-listenable in others.

But the first six tracks recorded on this album are pure gold. Terminal Death had a sound, a style, and they were writing quality songs.

These songs go beyond what has become the musical conventions and cliches of American Death metal.

The guitar sound is very reminiscent of early Metallic and Slayer (Kill'Em All and Show No Mercy eras). They sound like rusty chainsaws hacking off a femur.

There are some riffs and some chords, and each song has a nice, but not super shredded, guitar solo.

Where Terminal Death really succeeds is their ability to do more than just the cliched breakdown. Instead of just dropping from 200BPM to 75BM they slow down. They vary up what they are playing.

If Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden  wrote an album using James Hetfield of Metallica's gear from Kill'Em All, it may very well come out sounding like this.

The vocals are unmistakably death metal. The growls are a bit more extreme than Paul Speckmann of Master but not as brutal as Jeff Walker of Carcass. It's a very good happy medium.

The best way to look at this album is what could have been. Terminal Death was at least as good as the debut albums put out by such big names as Napalm Death, Carcass, and Morbid Angel.

Throw in a producer and a label pushing them, and they would be one of the founding fathers of American Death Metal and they'd be up there with bands like Deicide and Obituary.

Release: 7/8/14 (Recorded 85-86)
Genre: Metal, Death Metal
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
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