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Back to the basics, with a medium tank - 89%

Napero, January 9th, 2005

Terrorwheel is a three-man outfit from Finland. They truly go back to the basics, but with a hard hitting, rude style. This is blues metal, or punkish speed metal. Or possibly high velocity rock'n'roll metal.

It is best to get the obvious and mandatory parts out of the way first: it is very difficult to avoid comparing the sound of Terrorwheel on the Rhythm'N'Murder with Motörhead. The band has actually been known to play Motörhead covers at the end of their gigs, with really respectable results. Admitting one's influences is always nice and honorable, and they really know how to show their respect to the great masters of this genre.

The cover of the album and a quick comparison to both Motörhead and a medium tank of Eastern Bloc manufacture pretty well sum up the album's main merits. The band sounds like Motörhead, with possibly a dash of angry punk attitude mixed in, more in the form of rudish sounds and sheer aggression than anything else. If Motörhead was to make the Orgasmatron now, instead of 19 years ago, this would be the sound they would aim at. The vocals by Marco the Missile are close to Lemmy's beautiful concrete mixer tenor voice, but a bit thicker and... ahem... wetter. I like his voice quite a bit more than Lemmy's, his way to sing is less strained and makes it sound easier. There are no fancy tricks or effects, just the three instruments, nice vocals and a no-bullshit attitude. Basic things always work well when done well. The rough, bluesy sound of Terrorwheel, combined with relatively straightforward songwriting and enough skill to make the playing actually sound easy, could be a schoolbook example of how to do it.

The songs are consistently short, with only three tracks out of eleven exceeding the four minute mark. This is a good thing, as with this sort of down-to-earth stuff extra lentgh tends to turn the interest into boredom, and every song contains an abundance of material to fill its length with furious playing. The first listening might leave the listener numb and not really wanting more. Please, give the album three runs before judging it, it will get stuck in your mind like extra fat onto your mother-in-law's butt.

The first three tracks, Say No to Religion, Under Your Skin and Bloodthirst, are basically simple rock'n'rollish speed metal, and it is the fourth track, Snake Eyes, that first sticks to your internal jukebox. Then the fifth one, Under Crimson Sky, finally does the trick. The song has a devilishly nice riff and a mood that slightly differs from the rest of the album, and it is this song that will remain in your mind after the first run. It will probably haunt you the next day, and that's a sign to play the whole thing again.

The rest of the album returns to the simplicity of the first three songs, but the seventh, Redeemer, is a piece that takes a few more listenings to reveal its underlying excellence. The last one, Outlaws Inc., has a strange quality that leaves the last 30 seconds playing in your head, repeating "Outlaws incorporated, Outlaws incorporated" over and over again.

The playing skills of the band are pretty spectacular. The genre they have chosen and the angry production on Rhythm'n'Murder tend to hide the fact due to its roughness, but they know their trade. And of the thousands of nicknames chosen by metal artists, the drummer's "DJ Locomotive" is perhaps one of the most fitting. The idea of a speeding train as his totem animal is not too far-fetched.

There's a lot of lyrics on the album. The main subjects seem to be society and religion, with an emphasis on critizising both of them. The amount of lyrics is remarkable for a finnish band singing in English, and even more exceptional qualitywise. Most of the text is really enjoyably fluent, even if it delivers some mildly socio-politically coloured ideas.

The production is exactly the kind that this album needs. As can be expected for a three man band, every instrument can be heard perfectly all the time, but this does not imply that it's an album by Toto by any means. There is a roughness that fits the songs excellently, and the result is a powerful brickwall of sound. This is the exact opposite of "ambient", in every respect.

I usually listen to the classics, thrash and death. I'm the first one to admit that this kind of stuff is not my cup of tea, but somehow I always feel drawn to this album, time after time. I don't know why, but it must have something to do with a primordial instinct that recognises the basic values and wants to return to the roots of everything.

It may well be that all this has been done a million times already, but after the battle, Terrorwheel remains standing on its ground and proves the value of the roots and aggression. If you ever get the chance to hear and see them live, don't miss it. If you like Motörhead, you'll love this. Just don't expect Terrorwheel to be a cover band, they have their own message to deliver, and they deliver it well. Even if the almost-Motörhead cover picture of the album makes you wonder if they have anything original to offer, they certainly do. They simply share a genre, and possibly sound somewhat alike. Perhaps they tread in the footsteps of Mr. Kilmister, but they do that with a T-62.

Every first album can always be improved on. Time will tell how exactly is that possible, as I probably wouldn't rate an album of this style any higher than this. I intend to get the next Terrorwheel album immediately upon its release, however, and find out.