Released: 2006, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Terrorizer’s place in the halls of grindcore infamy is near the top of the heap. Their one and only album—1989’s WORLD DOWNFALL—is a landmark of the genre and one that would influence many of today’s grind bands. Reportedly recorded in a mere eight hours (featuring Morbid Angel’s David Vincent on bass), it was under the pressure of Napalm Death’s Shane Embury that Earache Records released WORLD DOWNFALL after the band had already split up. Grim, brutal and undeniably heavy, WORLD DOWNFALL helped usher in the hybrid of thrash, death metal, punk and hardcore, then left an untouched legacy for seventeen years.
Formed by Morbid Angel’s Pete Sandoval and ex-Napalm Death guitarist Jesse Pintado (the only remaining original members), Terrorizer lay dormant until plans were revealed in late 2005 that the band would be reforming with Morbid Angel/Monstrosity guitarist, Tony Norman, on bass and Anthony Rezhawk (AKA Tony Militia) on vocals, replacing Vincent and Oscar Garcia, respectively. The result is DARKEST DAYS AHEAD, an oddly prophetic title given the scrutiny that the album will surely face upon its release. More a brutal death metal album than classic grindcore, DARKEST DAYS AHEAD fits the bill for a headbanging forty-minute ride but fans looking for the logical follow-up to WORLD DOWNFALL need look elsewhere because this is a completely different band, sound and outlook than what they left us with seventeen years ago. Still, when taken in the context of a singular release, DARKER DAYS AHEAD is a bruising album, one that borrows heavily from the mid- to late-nineties sound of Napalm Death and Sandoval’s own Morbid Angel, to uphold the band’s much-heralded and respected legacy. Was DARKEST DAYS AHEAD worth the wait? Absolutely!
The instrumental intro, “Inevitable,” is a complete waste of time but things start to cook once Sandoval unleashes a torrent of blasting malevolence on the title track. Rezhawk’s vocals are steeped in the guttural tradition of the genre but his enunciation is better than most, allowing the listener to follow most of what he says. Pintado’s rapid-fire, chunky riffs here are pure gold. The essence of death/grind could be summed up with this one track. “Crematorium,” the one track to hear above all else on the album, is pure classic grind. Sandoval’s machine gun drumming, Rezhawk’s belched vocals and Pintado’s brutal, yet catchy, groove-based riffs punctuate a four-minute trip back in time to what made WORLD DOWNFALL so great. “Fallout” opens with a chugging tempo, not unlike a Morbid Angel gem, before launching into a mid-paced groove that begins a trend that runs through most of the album. “Doomed Forever” marches along at a brisk pace aided by Rezhawk’s death metal growls and a beefy bass performance from Norman. The punk-ish groove of “Blind Army” evokes memories of early Bolt Thrower and Sandoval’s blasting middle section comes from out of nowhere like a sucker punch to ride out the track. “Nightmare” continues on with the Bolt Thrower/Napalm Death influence before the band reminisces about their own past glories by revisiting “Dead Shall Rise” from WORLD DOWNFALL, re-named here as “Dead Shall Rise ’06.” The most obvious difference lies in the vocals of Rezhawk, whose commanding growl is more assertive than that of Oscar Garcia but the track remains relatively similar otherwise. Producer Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez brings a modern vibe to the new version but the ugly, raw essence of the original remains intact. Sandoval’s useless finale, “Ghost Train,” is an atonal mess of blasting drums and piano tinkling that is similar to what bogged down the final third of Morbid Angel’s last album, HERETIC. At less than forty minutes total, DARKER DAYS AHEAD should not be burdened with ill-conceived filler like this.
Where Terrorizer ultimately fails is that the esteemed legacy and nearly universal reverence that WORLD DOWNFALL is held in cannot help but make DARKER DAYS AHEAD an exercise in fleeting disappointment. Nothing could have equaled it, plain and simple, and most people will go in expecting WORLD DOWNFALL PART 2 only to be letdown by what they hear. That being said, DARKER DAYS AHEAD is a brilliant death metal album and certainly one that, under any other name, would be held in the highest regard. The riffs are fast and memorable, possessing a latent groove behind the foreboding rhythm section and the vocals are delivered with unrepentant fury. In a live setting, these songs would utterly destroy but the inevitable statement, “But it ain’t WORLD DOWNFALL,” will undoubtedly—and unfortunately—dog the band along the way.
KILLER KUTS: “Darker Days Ahead,” “Crematorium,” “Fallout,” “Doomed Forever,” “Blind Army,” “Nightmare”