Monday, April 2, 2012

Terrorizer - Hordes of Zombies [2012]

Terrorizer are easily one of the most revered grindcore/death metal bands in the history of metal, and all because of their tremendous and earth-shattering debut, “World Downfall”. They’re praised for this album the world over; and rightly so. It is perhaps one of the best of its kind, one of the most monumental and ahead of its time, and probably one of the greatest grindcore albums ever, even. In fact, the band had broken up prior to its release, and recorded the album after already having split up. In 2005, Jesse and Pete decided to come together and reform Terrorizer, releasing their second studio album, “Darker Days Ahead”, a year later. This album was a whopping disappointment for fans, and that same year, Jesse died of alleged diabetes. And now, six years later, Pete remains the only original member in the band, recruiting David Vincent for bass duties once again, “Hordes of Zombies” their third full-length to date. I’ll come right out and say it now to spare you the time: it’s a huge disappointment. It’s stale and boring, and it’s nowhere near the magnitude and prestige that “World Downfall” had achieved.

I will say that this album is overall an improvement on “Darker Days Ahead”. The guitars are mercifully fast and almost always tremolos, but apart from that, they don’t have anything good about them. The riffs are for the most part boring and bland. Apart from a few segments here and there where the guitars take the liberty of differentiating even a little from the rest of the album, for example at the ending of “Evolving Era,” where the guitars strum mellow notes, or “Subterfuge” with its fun intro riff, the whole album is pretty much a copy of its own self. There’s very few riffs that do anything different from the rest of the record, so the result is an unvaried 38-minute long song with very, very little to offer. In addition, most of the riffs play along to ridiculously predictable and familiar note progressions, ones that have been heard at least a million times before. Yes, this is a grindcore album, where a lack of variation is to be expected, but if the riffs had been at least all similar but something completely different than what is heard on your typical grindcore album, they would’ve been much more enjoyable and tolerable. That is not the case, however, as here they have pulled a double whammy, where the riffs are both extremely similar to themselves and extremely similar to riffs that have been heard millions of times before.

The most interesting part of the album is by far the drumming. Pete Sandoval has still got it, his back is now perfectly stable, and he flaunts his ability on this record. He still keeps in touch with what he did on “World Downfall”, frantic thrash beats sharing the stage with manic blast beats and concise, chaotic yet controlled drum fills. He alone is the sole good aspect of new Terrorizer, but unfortunately his fantastic drumming is not enough to redeem the album as a whole. His double bass abilities are still mind-blowing, and he shows this often throughout. He keeps up the pace at a blindingly fast tempo throughout the entire album, the guitars always on par with him, but the guitars are honestly far less interesting than the drumming. Granted, Pete Sandoval has always been considered one of the drummer gods in the metal scene, whether they see him in his main band Morbid Angel or side projects like this one, but he is still arguably as good as he was back in the day… and it works to Terrorizer’s advantage. But I digress.

Another facet that “Hordes of Zombies” suffers from is the vocals. On “World Downfall”, they had an aggressive edge to them, were far more diverse, and offered a more interesting value than the current vocalist, Anthony Rezhawk. He always keeps the vocals at about the same tone, very rarely going a little higher or lower, usually doing so in correlation with the guitars. They’re stale and uninteresting to say the least, low death growls with no real substance to them.  “Darker Days Ahead” had also suffered from this same problem, and fortunately the vocals are now mixed at a more tolerable level. Admittedly, they have improved somewhat since its predecessor, but are still nothing to call home about. After about the fourth or fifth song Anthony’s vocals become almost a given, but not in a good way. Occasionally I felt my mind wandering off in boredom as his vocals continued along the same tone and mundane deliverance, and more often than not I found myself ignoring them altogether.

In conclusion, “Hordes of Zombies” is indeed a new effort by the band. At least it’s an effort, but alas, it is not one worth receiving praise. It is certainly an improvement on the abysmal “Darker Days Ahead”, but it remains miles behind what “World Downfall” had to offer, and my guess is Terrorizer will never match that album’s magnitude. I have probably compared this album too much to “World Downfall”, which is an unfair assessment; but even if considering “Hordes of Zombies” a standalone record, it really doesn’t offer anything special either. Perhaps there will be some people that will find good in this, but after having listened to it several times, I can conclusively say that this is a genuinely bad album. While there are some riffs, albeit very, very scarcely, that are more interesting than others, there are many more riffs that are completely dull and have nothing special that they hold to themselves. The whole album contains riffs of persistent boredom and they‘re all pretty much the same. I couldn’t even find it in me to even headbang, hardly at all throughout the entire record. Sorry, Terrorizer. Maybe next time.



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