Darker Days Ahead
(Century Media Records)
When it comes to the extreme Metal scene I don’t think there’s many other albums that have marked people’s minds more than TERRORIZER’s debut, “World Downfall”. So, naturally TERRORIZER’s second effort has been awaited for a long long while now and finally here it is. Unfortunately the fear of being hugely disappointed by it started to rise once guitarist Jesse Pintado (ex-NAPALM DEATH) gave me a copy of their comeback demo early 2005, a three track affair which featured two old tunes (reworked from their demo days) and a newer one. The whole thing sounded like a huge letdown for a TERRORIZER recording with Jesse having opted for a crappy super downtuned guitar sound and new singer Anthony Rezhawk (ex – RESISTANT MILITIA, RESISTANT CULTURE) sounding just like another Death Metal singer without having that totally ripping / distinctive tone that original singer / guitarist Oscar Garcia had. The newer tune, ‘Doomed Forever’ just simply didn’t have the trademarks that made all the early TERRORIZER material so killer / ripping / mindblowing (I’m talking of 1987 / 1988 here). So, my expectations towards this second full length were considerably reduced to say the least and when I heard the promo copy last week, my few remaining illusions were all gone! This new 12 track album is just an extension of what had been started with the 2005 demo and nothing else. Now I have to clarify something. It’s said in the bio accompanying this disc that they’ve recorded 11 new pieces… Well, that’s totally false because six tracks are reworked versions of songs dating from their demo days, add to this one intro (largely dispensable) and an awful outro (‘Ghost Train’, a mix of piano with fast drumming and industrial sounds) and you get four new tunes written specifically for this record (‘Darker Days Ahead’, ‘Doomed Forever’, ‘Legacy Of Brutality’ and ‘Victim Of Greed’). All having a common point: those tunes all sound largely much more like NAUSEA inspired numbers (incidentally Oscar Garcia’s current band) than TERRORIZER songs (which means that the Hardcore edge is obvious). The riffing being very particularly uninspired with on top of this some very typical growling, heard and heard already thousand of times. As far as I’m concerned it’s clear that mainman Jesse Pintado has lost most of his initial inspiration (as it has been already proven on the last batch of NAPALM DEATH records he appeared on). A sad fact, but a real established one. Out of the four tunes ‘Legacy…’ would certainly be the one (during the chorus at least) which sounds the closest to old TERRORIZER, very minor. One would say that the intro and outro don’t really count, and there’s still six old pieces to be found on here, so it can largely save the album from being a letdown. Well, in theory it could be the case, but unfortunately those reworked versions are for the most part a disaster. It starts with ‘Crematorium’, most of the original structure has been changed for something particularly boring but the worst comes with that new infamous chorus… This one being based now on an ultra fast beat and Anthony’s delivery being atrocious. Then comes ‘Fallout’, a song which used to be one of my all time TERRORIZER faves, so naturally once I knew that it would appear on this record, I went nuts. But the result is just a disaster! You simply almost can’t recognize the original song… It’s that bad! Between the totally unnecessary growls, that downtuned guitar sound which takes away half of the original power and the non-adequate drumming (I rarely criticize Pete’s work but this time I have to do it partially), a disaster as it simply doesn’t recapture the original vibe of that once majestic number. ‘Mayhem’ has never been a particularly ripping tune and here it comes as being rather good and definitely a bit heavier than the original version. ‘Blind Army’ is next and while I thought at first (judging by the title) that it was a new tune, it’s in fact a reworked version of the totally annihilating ‘Nuclear Dismemberment’. Those being familiar with the demo days will instantly recognize that totally devastating tune. Unfortunately much to my despise, that reworked version doesn’t carry half of the power the original tune had with Jesse and Oscar on guitars! Proof that we’re in 2006 and the sound techniques have considerably evolved, but sometimes you simply can’t achieve to be as good (and better) that you originally were! It’s a shame because that tune originally carried an awesome amount of power with that semi slow paced opening theme, but this said, the result here is still very enjoyable. Then comes what is probably the best track of the album (not necessarily musicwise but because for a change a reworked version finally works!), the mighty ‘Nightmares’, which used to be the title of their first demo / rehearsal back in January 1987. While the original was just good at best back then, this new version (with an unmistakable MASTER feel stamped all over it) simply shreds! There’s still that majestic hook inside it pushed even further, that trademark that made TERRORIZER so insane back in the day. ‘Dead Shall Rise V.06’ is a slightly reworked version of the classic tune that had already appeared on the debut album, it works once again no doubt, the thing being even faster than before. This said, comparing to 99% of the records in the Death / Black / Grind Metal field nowadays, this one simply is on the top of the mountain there’s no doubt about it. For those not familiar with the demos and the original songs, you won’t probably understand my criticism here because the album definitely shreds. But if you’re an old school TERRORIZER devotee, just like I am, then there’s chances that you’ll be disappointed and you won’t see the point in having released a record as disappointing as this one when they had all the cards to come up with another winner!!! Last but not least, while Tony Norman’s work doesn’t need to be talked about (Jesse having probably done all the rhythm work and the bass work being secondary in such case), there’s a real need to say that Mr. Sandoval has accomplished once again a totally amazing work here that simply can’t be topped as usual – no matter how hard the Flo Mourniers of this world will try. Sandoval IS GOD, plain and simple.
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