Almost every band has that album: you know, the critically and/or commercially reviled dud in an otherwise passable-to-radical back catalogue. Occasionally, a Decibel staffer or special guest will take to the Decibel site to bitch and moan at length as to why everybody’s full of shit and said dud is, in fact, The Shit. This time around, Greg Pratt defends Terrorizer’s post-World Downfall catalogue.
So, Terrorizer found themselves in the tough spot of releasing an absolute grindcore classic with 1989 debut World Downfall. I mean, where do you go from there? Well, they put out two albums since and despite the fact that smart money says you probably forget at least one of them exists, they’re worthy of more respect than that.
The two albums are pretty different, and, sure, neither is an absolute grindcore classic. But both are really good, and neither are anywhere near as bad as some of the crap we justify in this column; these albums are no Risk or Chinese Democracy, if you catch my drift. They’re legitimately good grind/death albums, just overshadowed by a classic, and by our intense expectations.
First off was 2006’s Darker Days Ahead, a decidedly crusty grindcore album that featured only half of the same lineup as the debut, which got things off to a bit of a rocky start in the minds of longhairs worldwide. But I dig this album, the pure speed and crust-punk energy of it coming through loud and clear, the spirit of the band in full force, everything, really, as it should be.
Songs like “Crematorium” or “Doomed Forever” could easily have fit right in on World Downfall; the only thing really keeping this one from hitting as viscerally as the debut is a production sound that is a bit too thick and polished for this kind of punk-y grindcore. But, man, the spirit’s there, and this album’s songs are every bit as good as the debut’s.
Here’s what I don’t like about Darker Days Ahead: the redone version of “Dead Shall Rise.” It’s the band’s most well-known song, and that’s because it’s a fucking awesome song. This redone version is just fine; it’s actually pretty awesome. But, bands: never redo your best songs; you’re not going to make it any better and we’d rather hear a new song anyway. It gives an air of “we know our new stuff isn’t as good” every single time a band does this.
That aside, this album is very far removed from being shitty, but I don’t have the sway at Decibel HQ to rename the column “Justifying Albums You Always Fucking Forget to Listen To,” so with horns raised high and grindcore blasting loud, all that’s left to say is this is a great grindcore record, and one that should get way more love than it does.
Then there’s 2012’s Hordes of Zombies, which kinda got things off on the wrong footing with that lame album title. But the return of David Vincent on bass made up for that shortcoming, although three different lineups on three albums is a super frustrating track record for any band to have (this album was also the first without Jesse Pintado, who passed away in 2006, on guitar).
This album is decidedly more death metal than the first two; after suffering through the intro (called “Intro”; stop that, bands), the album begins with the title track, and right away the production sounds heavier and meatier, giving a more DM feel to it, even though it doesn’t take long for drum legend Pete Sandoval to start blasting away, bringing some grindcore to the song.
Songs like “Evolving Era” or “Prospect of Oblivion” make the fact that two of these dudes have Morbid Angel listed on their resumes pretty obvious: this is intense classic death metal, riffs a-swirling and drums a-pounding. And it sounds great, but this isn’t the grindcore that made Terrorizer’s debut great or the grindcore/crust/DM amalgam that made the second album so energetic. But it is killer death metal; go put these songs on right now and pretend it’s a different band, some new release by a group you’ve never heard of. Sold. But as Terrorizer, on their third album? The weight of expectation crushes all.
It must be said, though, that as a post-Morbid Angel grinding death album, Hordes of Zombies (I hate even typing that) totally kills it, and is actually more brisk and energizing than many Morbid Angel albums, which is why I can fully justify loving this album and its predecessor. They’re both killer albums that suffer only because when you knock it out of the park on your debut, then wait a bunch of years, and change members, just nothing is going to satisfy listeners like it should. Still, unreasonable and soul-crushing expectations of metalheads be damned: Terrorizer emerged victorious with a trio of killer albums to their name in the end.
So, to summarize, you forgot at least one of these albums exist, they are both good and beyond justification, but because it’s a cruel, heartless world, I sit here feeling the need to scream these final, defensive, useless words into the void as I play air drum blastbeats along to any goddamn version of “Dead Shall Rise,” a single tear falling over the brutal fact that these two albums represent 77 minutes of killer extreme music that I’m concerned not a single longhair around the globe rocked out to over the last 77 days. If you have, please let me know in the comments so at least a sliver of faith in humanity can be restored. If you haven’t, time for you to revisit these without secretly hoping they’ll be as great as World Downfall, and enjoying what happens next.