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This is probably the coolest guitar driven speed metal-esque album I've heard since Agent Steel's debut Skeptics Apocalypse - alas with former Agent Steel guitarist Kurt Kilfelt here I guess that really shouldn't come as a major surprise. In a lot of ways this is very comparable to early Agent Steel, the guitars are constantly spiraling out a tornado of nonstop riffs left and right, and just as Agent Steel had a phenomenal one-of-a-kind vocalist [John Cyriis], Holy Terror had Keith Deen. Can you even describe this guys range? Random? The formula was perfect.
Fact: You can't replace John Cyriis, nobody ever will and the same can be said about vocalist Keith Deen here. He single handingly takes this album to the next level and his performance is really incredible. As I was saying above his range is completely all over the place, deathly screams all over (almost reminding me of Eric Adams at times), crystal clear shrieks piercing the skies, smooth melodic high notes, thrashy growls, raspy grunt-like mid range singing - it's unbelievable and truly makes this album a great experience. Above all, he's also one of those rare vocalists that'll really strike you with some of the lyrics - he has that ability to make some lines stand out completely in the clear and that's something you don't always see, especially in speed/thrash:
Rising through, the mist around me
Shackled to my vice
The stench of my own sins surround me
Deep inside, I need to live
Feed the fires for now but remember all
Everyone else is really top notch as well and even though there's a huge focus on the guitars, both the bass and drums stand out a lot on their own as well. Drummer Jack Schwartz had just left Dark Angel and easily displays a ton of skill and diversity, though I really have to say Floyd Flanary's bass work really shines quite often throughout. The guitars are constantly at blazing speeds and Floyd has no trouble keeping up with the pace at all, sometimes it sounds like he's somehow even going faster! Kurt Kilfelt already showed us what he could do with Agent Steel's earliest material and his blisteringly fast playing is still the main focus when it comes to the guitars here. The band brought in novice Mike Alvord to fill in for another guitarist and even though he was a little inferior at the time (stated in interviews by himself), him and Kurt worked really well together. Compared to Agent Steel's debut there's definitely more melody here, more dynamic playing and some insanely well timed leads, solo's, awesome dual harmonies, etc. The lineup couldn't have been better.
Even though this isn't quite as out there as Mind Wars and is by far more straight forward, for what they were doing here you couldn't get much better than this (and this is comparable to how Agent Steel developed too, Holy Terror gets more varied with Mind Wars as Agent Steel did with Unstoppable Force). This is constantly fast melodic thrash, speed metal, whatever you want to call it, hyper paced metal that'll grab you by the throat relentlessly giving you no time to rest. I've really been trying to think of what I can say for a few specific tracks, but I can't. Nearly every single song comes to mind with standout moments, making this truly a rare gem that shines from the start and to the end. One moment I might try attempt to describe the insanity that the end of Alpha Omega is, then next I could be left speechless with the unforgettably catchy Terror and Submission - well I guess it was unfair to mention those two, but this is just one of those albums where it seems impossible to choose only a few favorites. Everything here is absolutely amazing. Those who want the finest in classic US speed/thrash and fans of stuff like early Agent Steel especially, should find this highly enjoyable. Ultimately recommended.