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A different kind of awesome - 87%

Feast for the Damned, August 1st, 2020

When I learned that the Traveler sophomore was on its way, I wanted the album to be flawless and I wanted it to exceed the debut. Not an easy feat considering that the self-titled was one of, if not my absolute favorite of the last decade, but I was still hoping that the band would surprise me. And they indeed surprised me by releasing the album two weeks earlier than they previously announced to. After freaking out for 10 minutes straight, I devoted the rest of my day to listening to this as much as I could and experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions that came with its differences compared to the debut.

At first, I thought this was a massive downgrade. Production is missing that slightly dirty edge that made the debut so good, the guitars are often shifting towards the style of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest instead of the powerful, almost speed metal leaning sound they had. Changing the elements that made them different from most of the NWOTHM bands is something I don't quite understand, but as time went on, it started growing on me more and more. Tracks that didn't capture my attention at first started to sound a lot better. For example, the title track weirded me out ever since they released it as a single. But the more I listened to it, the more I started to appreciate its uniqueness. Jean-Pierre Abboud delivers some relatively straightforward vocals up until the guitar solo which is followed up by the climax of the song where he slows down, shifts tone, and sings his guts out for a couple of lines with some hints of epicness.

The album is far more varied vocal wise than its predecessor was and this results in the most memorable parts of the album. It's not about anthemic choruses anymore, the calm clean parts are the real deal. Diary of a Maiden has one of these parts and it perfectly sets the stage for the Maiden-like galloping that comes later. And if that wasn't enough, the band has their first-ever power ballad on here. After the Future was so uncharacteristic from the band singing-wise that I initially thought that they had a guest vocalist. Everything is great about the vocals honestly. The range, the style, the sound, the variety, however that's not all the album has to offer.

The basslines bear the same qualities as they did on the self-titled. It's audible and it serves its purpose, but I can't help but feel that it worked better with the other record. Not that there are glaring issues here, they just don't stand out as much. On the contrary, I feel the drum sound improved a lot. It's mainly because the cleaner production, but our guy behind the kit also made it extra special for us with Deepspace.

Termination Shock is a great album, no doubt about that, but what puts it below the self-titled for me is the production. The clean sound works well with the drums, but otherwise, it makes the songs lack that little edge, the little sexiness that tracks like Street Machine or Speed Queen had. That being my only complaint, I'm fairly certain that I'll be still spinning both this and the debut five years from now. Can't wait to hear what they come up with the next time.

The highlights of the album are After the Future, Diary of a Maiden and Deepspace.