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Mindwars > The Fourth Turning > Reviews
Mindwars - The Fourth Turning

Mindwars’ most proficient release yet, but not their best album - 90%

Wuchak, March 20th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Dissonance Productions (Digipak)

The Fourth Turning is the fourth of currently four albums by Mindwars, whose members hail from Los Angeles and Turin, Italy. This is the first of their studio output to feature four members (rather than three) with Danny "Z" Pizzi switching from bass to second guitar, which should give the band a fuller sound in the live setting.

Of course guitarist/vocalist Mike Alvord is the mastermind behind the proceedings. He was the second guitarist in the hallowed Holy Terror, who released two albums in the late 80s, Terror and Submission and Mind Wars. That band ended prematurely after the members got stuck in Germany upon getting booted from their tour by their label due to loose lips. Twenty-five years later Alvord returned with Mindwars, a band that proudly continues the legacy of Holy Terror, albeit with a more thrash-oriented vocalist in the mold of Tom Angelripper mixed with Denis “Snake” Bélanger, just different.

The Fourth Turning appears to be a concept album (based around the Strauss–Howe generational theory), which I think is a good call after three opuses addressing random topics in the Holy Terror vein. In other words, if Alvord’s well was running low in regards to lyrical ideas, an album-length storyline was the perfect inspiration.

The album is noticeably tight, a notch above the proficiency of the three prior releases, which can be observed on “Digital Dictatorship,” a song reminiscent of Holy Terror’s “Judas Reward,” but with more manic double bass bits and certainly unique enough to stand on its own.

Other standouts include: the pummeling mid-paced “Fall in Line” with its catchy gang-shout chorus; the manic thrash with rapid-fire vo-kills of “(Who’ll Stop the) Aryan Race” which, by the way, features a piece that recalls the opening riff of “Love Gun”; “Marching Off to War,” which begins with heavy chords and features a notable lead lick on the chorus; and “Black Death” which borrows the iconic opening of “Twisted into Form,” but is otherwise completely different.

Like Holy Terror, the lyrical themes are intelligent and explore issues of morality, psychology, spirituality, politics and corruption. Fans of Holy Terror will remember how “Terminal Humor,” the curious intermission between “Fool’s Gold” and “Mind Wars,” included a snippet of a preacher pontificating about believers captive to a religious spirit that compels them to believe the day of miracles has past. Likewise the closing song here, fittingly named “Holy Terror,” includes an entertaining sermon snippet of a Charismatic minister. Interesting songs like these are left to the listener’s interpretation; and wisely so since lyrical ideas are best when they leave room for the individual to reflect and interpret on a personal level.

There’s a bonus track that’s a cover of Slayer’s walloping “Criminally Insane” from 1986. It’s a straightforward rendition and IMHO the slightly better version.

If backed against the wall, I prefer Mindwars to Holy Terror because they have more dimension in their writing, especially when compared to Holy Terror’s second opus Mind Wars, which was so speed-oriented it lost some luster (but, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great album and isn’t as one-dimensional as I might be implying). A couple examples of the versatility on The Fourth Turning can be observed in the ultra-doom opening of “Blood Red” and the moody mid-piece before the lead solo on “Digital Dictatorship.”

Sure, there’s no Keith Deen, but he was inimitable and I appreciate Alvord’s diverseness. He effectively acclimates to the needs of the song like, say, Scott Waters of Ultimatum. Also, keep in mind, that Alvord wrote two of the better songs on Mind Wars — “Judas Reward” and “Do Unto Others” — so it’s no surprise that his new version of Holy Terror (in essence) is superior to the old one.

While I put this one behind The Enemy Within (2014) and Do Unto Others (2018), because I happen to prefer the songs on those albums, this is a very worthy Mindwars release and easily their most pummeling. While it’s the same style, it’s not the same-old-same-old. Alvord & his team are branching out to new soundscapes. For instance, don’t expect any ‘acoustic’ (clean channel) pieces in the mold of My Dying Bride.

Needless to say, aficionados of Holy Terror, Sodom, Bathory, Forbidden, Overkill, Ultimatum, Kreator, Voivod, Death Angel, Betrayal and Motorhead should eat this up. Like those bands, Mindwars knows how to mix things up to keep the songs interesting. You can expect several forms of heavy music: thrash, doom, death, power, punk, whatever.