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Essential And Underrated - 90%

corviderrant, August 27th, 2008

This was an essential part of my youth that was so filled with anger against so many things and people, this album full of rage and venom and vitriol against society and its sickness and its hypocrisy. Agent Steel alumnus Kurt Kilfelt wound up and gave us this vicious thrash-fest because we'd been naughty fanboys and had it coming, and what a whopper of an album this is even years after the fact.

The only issue I have with this album is Keith Deen's vocals, as unlike many folks here I find his vocal approach grating about half the time. His unhinged screaming, ranting, and growling adds a lot of character, but also adds a lot of annoyance factor as well, since he often comes off as off-key and straining. When it works, it adds a distinct flavor to the music, an edge of sincerity that is very punk rock in feel. Otherwise he gets annoying quickly, like on "Do Unto Others", when he goes horribly off-key everywhere. But on "Debt of Pain" he sounds angry and outraged, and that adds a lot to the song. Depends on the song, really.

Otherwise, as mentioned, this is a killer album musically. Joe Mitchell's drumming is rock solid at every tempo (mostly high speed thrash mania dominates this album, of course), Floyd Flanary's dense, growling bass work riffs along with the guitars note for note and steps out at the intersection of "A Fool's Gold/Terminal Humor" in a tantalizingly brief solo spot, and both Kilfelt and fellow guitar ace Mike Alvord shred up a storm with a maelstrom of leads and ginsu-sharp riffing. The production is pretty damned good too, spotlighting everyone fairly evenly in the mix. The lyrics are scathing and unrelenting in their condemnation of society and religion, and are rather intelligent, to boot. Overall, as mentioned, this album spends a goodly amount of time in manic thrash mode, and was ridiculously fast for the time, as well as featuring a good amount of melody too to balance out the frenzied thrash madness. "Damned By Judges", "Debt of Pain" with its head-spinning guitar onslaught (Maiden on speed, imagine), "Judas Reward", and "Do Unto Others" (vocal shortcomings aside) in particular bring the dynamite and light the fuse with gleeful carelessness in the best possible sense of that phrase.

Holy Terror, sadly, were ahead of their time in that they could've been the future and saviors of the flagging thrash movement, borderline death metal though they were musically, but they were too much for most folks, I think. Couple that with the hit or miss vocals and it's no wonder they slipped through the cracks, which is a real shame, since they were really onto something. Since they're back together now, I hope they can bring back some of the intensity of real honest to god thrash madness unlike all these young wannabe bands who are blindly copying their big brothers' Exodus albums. I hope for the best here with them.