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Historically speaking, the death/grind outfit known as Terrorizer is quite significant. Not so much for any consistency in their studio output, which could be likened to a brief flash of genius by a delinquent child who couldn't keep his act together, but more because of the stylistic development that took place because of their iconic drummer Pete Sandoval (affectionately known as "Commando") and his connection with Morbid Angel. Anyone who is aware of the massive changes that took place in the death metal style due to his pioneering work and mastery of blast beats on "Altars Of Madness" will note the massive gap between the traditionalism of Death, Obituary, and a slew of older, thrash oriented prime-movers of the style, nay even the earlier work of Morbid Angel in "Abominations Of Desolation" before he came onto the scene. A similar story emerges for the present grindcore scene, which largely owes its chaotic nature to the same drummer, along with the now deceased guitarist of this outfit Jesse Pintado, who coined the genre's name and was a heavy factor in shaping the compositional quirks unique to it.
However, it is important to separate this band's historic significance with what it would end up becoming later on down the line, which is more akin to a conventional death metal band in the post-Morbid Angel sense, with occasional hints at the grindcore style inherent in the drumming style of Sandoval. Thus we come to "Hordes Of Zombies", which is by all standards the sort of album that Morbid Angel should have put out a year prior, minus Trey Azagthoth's wild, chaotic and, at times, atonal sounding flurries of notes. In the grand tradition of Slayer's "Reign In Blood", an album often associated with shaping the death metal sound, this is an album that largely plays off a straight-line bombardment approach with all the machine guns constantly firing. Respites from the endless slew of tremolo riffs and rumbling double-bass drum work are few, and largely culminate in fleeting breakdowns that hit like loud bomb blast and briefly silence the clatter of the smaller arms fire. The vocal input of Anthony Rezhawk is in line with the guttural wolf bark sound heard out of Chris Barnes and Dave Matrise of Jungle Rot, and further serves to bolster the militaristic character of this album.
Sadly, while the quality of each song is consistent and the execution is quite competent considering Sandoval's recent recovery from back surgery, song for song this doesn't quite seal the deal and ends up being an exercise in continually hitting the exact same territory. While much of Morbid Angel's early to middle era work was defined by a continual barrage of speed and fury, there was always a sense of variety and development to what was going on, not to mention a lot more sweetener from Azagthoth's fret board adventures to keep things interesting. Here the pictures is very similar to the solid yet largely one-dimensional character of the average Jungle Rot album, only loaded up with blast beats, about an average of 30 clicks faster, and maybe slightly heavier. It's gets a bit difficult to tell these songs apart at times, though a few such as "Subterfuge" and "State Of Mind" have fairly distinctive intro riffs that don't immediately resort of exaggerated Slayer worship with blurring drum gymnastics.
Far from being a bad album, "Hordes Of Zombies" will probably have a good deal of appeal to anyone who wants insanely fast yet largely non-technical death metal, ergo someone who wants a comprehensible version of what passes for grindcore these days. However, it doesn't meet the criterion for being essential, let alone iconic the way "World Downfall" was, though it caries the same overall picture of bare bones simplicity dressed up with a modern digital production. Much like a number of wildly hyped tech. death bands, this music tends to flow in one ear and then back out the other, and though it is pretty intense and exciting while its on, it misses the boat in terms of staying power. Old school death metal fans are encouraged to stick to Morbid Angel's catalog minus the latest album, whereas death/grind fans will want to go for either this band's debut or the early 90s output of Napalm Death, another importantly influential and well-known band associated with this one.
Terrorizer are one of those bands that likes to pop up randomly from time to time before retreating into a hibernation state. Originally formed in 1987, Terrorizor released a few demos and then split up before even recording their revolutionary and highly revered debut album, World Downfall. The content was recorded and released after the break up in 1989, and the band had been on hiatus ever since. Out of nowhere they revived themselves in 2005 for the highly anticipated follow up, Darker Days Ahead. The album majorly flopped and was seen largely as a monumental disappointment in metal history, and soon after its release original guitarist Jesse Pintado died from alleged diabetes complications. The band have been in limbo ever since and now possess two founding member; one who just happens to be drummer Pete "Commando" Sandoval from Morbid Angel and original bassist David Vincent. Now, six years after their second full-length effort the band have returned with a third follow up. Given the amount of time between releases, was Hordes of Zombies worth the wait?
Looking at a lot of the main content in metal as a whole, it's safe to say that anyone who is out of fresh ideas can always fall back on the explosive zombie fad that is sweeping every corner of the mainstream right now. It's also safe to say that it has been done before... again, and again, and again since the dawn of death metal. Yes, the subject is tried and true but an interesting one nonetheless and the album comes with interesting cover art to boot. Unfortunately, what lies beneath is the most stagnant of death metal/grindcore fusions.
Hordes of Zombies starts out with promise, the introductory track sets the content up for a grim b-film atmosphere as tires come screeching to a halt, sirens fill the background and the flicker of fire can be heard. Soon comes the shuffling of feet, obviously meant to be that of zombies due to the inhumane movement heard, and lots of hungry groaning. "Radiation Syndrome" and "Forward to Annihilation" reinforce the ambiance a little, further into the content. The first five tracks hold their own and make use of fast tremolo strummed riffs, generic guitar tricks such as diminished picking for that eerie vibe, and ear catching drum fills that pound away relentlessly. This does start to wear thin come the end of the fifth song, and from this point on the album feeds off itself.
"Hordes of Zombies" and "Evolving Era" are two of the highlights on this material, being that they show the most diversity amongst the fourteen track listing, having powerful double bass drumming sections that partner virtuously with tamer riffs before everything flies into a frenzy again. The rest of the content within is very predictable and filled to the brim with standard riffs and mind numbing repetitiveness. "Radiation Syndrome" and "Forward to Annihilation" are a couple of runner-ups that offer minimal variety that shows in a swampy sea of mediocrity.
The bass track is hidden fairly well and doesn't make any real outstanding contributions throughout the material other than keeping it heavy. There is also the newly enlisted guitar talents of Katrina Culture who demonstrates a fine job in her role, keeping the rhythms both furiously fast and heavy. However, the riffs chosen are well beyond predictable and average and they don't change throughout the content whatsoever. Vocalist Anthony Rezhawk returns on this release, delivering a decent but also unvaried performance of a modernized gruff style.
Terrorizer haven't yet lived up to their original debut album by any means, though Hordes of Zombies is a decent display of the talent possessed by Pete Sandoval... but that can be heard in any Morbid Angel release. What makes his drumming skills stand out more here is the repetition that engulfs everything around him, making the most mundane of drum rolls a welcome change. Though Hordes of Zombies is better than its disappointing predecessor, it lacks anything memorable and will soon fade into the abyss over time.
- Villi Thorne
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.
Terrorizer were once known as the premier death metal/grindcore group in the United States (even though had already broken up) after they had posthumously released the legendary LP “World Downfall” in 1989. Little did they know that album would influence death metal and grindcore for decades to come. Then in 2005, Pete and Jesse decided to give Terrorizer another shot, and they released their comeback album “Darker Days Ahead” in 2006. There was a lot of criticism of that album since it wasn’t anything close to “World Downfall,” but not only that, it was just very flat and boring death metal/grindcore, and that’s putting it nicely. Unfortunately, Jesse Pintado had succumbed to his fight with diabetes in 2006, and Terrorizer bit the dust again. But, the corpse of Terrorizer rises once more, this time with Pete being the sole survivor of the band. Anthony Rezhawk has come back to perform his vocal duties, and Pete employed David Vincent to come back on bass and got Katina Culture to be the replacement for the now deceased Jesse Pintado. Now with a full line-up again, Terrorizer tries to restore its legacy with a new offering, “Hordes Of Zombies.” After two reformations, does Pete “Commando” Sandoval and Co. have what it takes to win back the hearts of disenfranchised fans?
After an ambient introduction that wastes almost two minutes of your time, you are dumped straight into the title-track, ‘Hordes Of Zombies.’ You can immediately tell that Terrorizer tried to conjure a more straight-forward style that harkens back to “World Downfall” rather than “Darker Days Ahead.” So far everything just feels tighter than it was on “Darker Days Ahead.” And faster. Much faster.
Katina Culture shows herself to be a worthy successor to that of Jesse Pintado’s signature Terrorizer sound. A lot of her riffs, while fast and sometimes spastic, feel very vicious and well-structured (particularly on ‘Ignorance And Apathy’). She definitely has some chops, and with this being my first introduction to her (even though she is also a part of the punk rock group Resistant Culture) I am thoroughly happy with the performance she has been dolling out. There’s even a good bit of Mitch Harris (Napalm Death) influence that can be heard in some of the later songs, such as ‘Malevolent Ghosts,’ ‘Flesh To Dust,’ and ‘State Of Mind,’ just to name a few. Pete “Commando” Sandoval’s drumming is, well, Pete “Commando” Sandoval. I don’t know how to put it anymore than that, especially on a Terrorizer record. He has the mid-paced drum beats, and then there’s the full-speed ahead double bass and blastbeat-oriented grindcore that we love, with maybe an drum break interlude every once in a while.
One of the main problems with “Darker Days Ahead” was that Anthony Rezhawk’s vocals were atrociously loud in the mix, and with the lack of range he has it made his vocals ridiculously one-dimensional. While he still retains the same style on “Hordes Of Zombies,” he is integrated much more evenly with the music, and makes his presence to be not great, but much better than what the hell went on with their last album. Unfortunately for him, the vocals are still pretty one-dimensional with the same vocal cadences being used repeatedly, but let’s face it, Terrorizer has always been strictly looked at as a guitar-and-drum driven band. They could have made this album completely instrumental and I really don’t think the dynamic would have changed that much, and I think the same goes for David Vincent. You can hear little bits of the mid-and-high ranges of his bass, but again, “Hordes Of Zombies” seems to be a showcase for Pete and Katina to show their stuff, with Anthony and David just merely being brought along for the ride.
Even though there are only those two speeds to Terrorizer, some of the songs on “Hordes Of Zombies” seem to just kind of run together in the middle, with my attention span sometimes waning and unable to process when one song ends and the other begins. Sure, this is a death metal/grindcore album, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a little bit of variation in the music. Tracks like ‘Evolving Era,’ ‘Ignorance And Apathy,’ ‘Radiation Syndrome,’ and ‘Forward To Annihilation’ do a good enough job at showing that this incarnation of Terrorizer are a little more than just a one-trick grindcore pony, but I can certainly see that not being enough for some listeners.
After multiple sessions of going through “Hordes Of Zombies” a couple of thoughts had occurred to me. So far we are only about two months into 2012 and there has already been a large amount of excellent releases in the realms of death metal and grindcore, and maybe I am a little bit spoiled by it. The other thought was that this has to be better than “Darker Days Ahead” was, so my expectations weren’t exactly too high for this Terrorizer record. But, I must admit that there were some moments in “Hordes Of Zombies” where I was pleasantly surprised with what was thrown at me, and others where I found myself nodding off or feeling as if this is just “another Terrorizer song.” “Hordes Of Zombies” is by no means a must-have death metal/grindcore album, but after how stunningly bad “Darker Days Ahead” was this is a major step-up for the band and is at least worth checking out if you have a morbid curiosity to see how Terrorizer has come back from the ashes. Just do yourselves a favor and don’t get your hopes up for a return-to-form in the vein of “World Downfall,” because at this point that will never happen.
Originally written for Metal Blast (http://www.metalblast.net/).
Terrorizer is back and presenting Hordes Of Zombies, which features half of the original line-up. With this new album the band tries to keep up with the times and reclaim a place they’ve long abandoned.
There are some bands in the metal scene who are worshipped beyond belief, but the deifying patterns most commonly found have to do with legendary albums by a few bands which are held in the highest regards and considered immutable masterpieces that are untouched by the passage of time. By following that train of thought you’ll find out that there are few albums more fellated than Terrorizer’s debut, World Downfall. The album is worshipped by grindcore and death metal fans alike as if it was some sort of holy grail that showed itself to the world once, only to be rendered a urban legend and nowhere to be found again. Despite this sounding slightly as some type of criticism it isn’t, as I consider that the huge amount of praise and almost cult following that World Downfall has is entirely justified.
I mean few albums are more perfect than that one and even more considering the whole story behind it. A singer (Oscar Garcia) who didn’t remembered half of the songs from his demo band that no one knew, held up and thrown into the spotlight by Napalm Death’s Shane Embury who worshipped them. A drummer who was recording another album and a session bassist who simply assisted because the original one was in jail, and only eight hours worth of studio time for a band that was already split-up. This was pretty much the best one-time offer the world could have ever seen. Then 2006 came and it showed the band returning with Darker Days Ahead, and album that suffered from what we call in the metal world “The Comeback Effect”, which basically describes bands that try to make a return to form only to fail miserably and eventually taint their otherwise flawless legacies. In addition to that Jesse Pintado died just shortly after the release of the album, making it impossible for the band to continue at the time.
Fast-forward six years into 2012 and what we see is a reformed Terrorizer by the will of Pete Sandoval to continue playing extreme music outside of his longtime band, Morbid Angel. The singer on their last album is back to continue the spiteful vocal delivery and so is David Vincent who again returns to the bass spot. The line-up is complete with newly added Katina Culture, partner in crime with Anthony Rezhawk in Resistant Culture. All seems in place and my mind wanders between thoughts of a new grandiose album and another utter failure as the intro wallows around for two minutes, until suddenly the title track hits me in the face and Pete proves that his back are still in place. In fact the drumming is still the best part of Terrorizer’s twenty-first century albums as Pete keeps up a frantic pace with great thrashing beats mixed in with frenetic blast beats sections. It has always amazed me how much death/thrash oriented the drumming is, with a nearly complete absence of punk influence, despite this being a grindcore act. The three and a half minutes of the title track go down very fast and without many noticeable points of interest apart from the drums. Then the following “Ignorance And Apathy” continues to unleash the rampaging undead fury, and this I where I begin to realize just how slim and poor the riffing really is. The use of pinch harmonics in this song is quite irritating but I continue listening to the album in the hope of finding a good riff or two. It’s by the time “Subterfuge” and “Evolving Era” hit the speakers that finally some interesting moments can be found on the guitar, as some good riffs can be found there.
However I can’t shed the feeling of having listened to the same two riffs for the last ten minutes and as the album evolves so does my boredom and my actual insensitivity to it. The band feels glad in reveling on this type of formulaic and modern sounding death/grind, not unlike a mix of mid-period Morbid Angel and Phobia, and to be honest it just doesn’t suit them. The choice for leading throat here also doesn’t help, as Rezhawk’s bellowing roar is more akin to a death metal act than grindcore. I find that the new better half (or should I say worst?) of the band fails utterly in convincing me of their skills, as Rezhawk sounds more in line with a brutal Johan Hegg and Katina appears here totally uninspired to say the least. I could just about describe almost every song here the same way as they follow the same pattern of riff with blast beat followed by different riff with thrashing drums, rinse repeat for two to three minutes. I don’t intend on repeating myself anymore or elongating myself in further criticisms but this album manages to bore me, and when a death/grind album does that it’s never a good sign.
I find that Terrorizer’s new album won’t change anyone’s mind about the path they undertook six years ago, but it does give you a more interesting use of your time than Darker Days Ahead did, albeit a very samey one. The album is very repetitive and never goes into unfamiliar territory as the formulaic songwriting is present through and through. Despite all my criticism I think that many people will find this at least a bit appealing, especially if they’re into bands like Phobia or Kill The Client that use a similar approach to the one found here. Bear in mind that this is far from being as brutal as those two mentioned bands, but it still packs enough aggression to have some interest to fans of them. I find the lack of good riffs to be Hordes Of Zombies’ Achilles heel as nearly forty minutes pass and I can’t keep a couple of good ones in my memory, but still this doesn’t sound disjointed or appalling. In the end it’s just an uninspired piece of music apart from the drumming department which clearly sticks with you and makes it bearable. If it wasn’t for Pete’s work I’d probably be unable to listen to this album at all, but I have to say that I admire his unrelenting commitment here. Now if only they wrote good riffs to come along with it…
Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine