Monday 7 January 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Terrorizer, "Caustic Attack"

By: Elliot Paisley

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 12/10/2018
Label: The End Records

On “Caustic Attack” Terrorizer at times sound positively apocalyptic.

“Caustic Attack” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Turbulence
2. Invasion
3. Conflict And Despair
4. Devastate

5. Crisis
6. Infiltration
7. The Downtrodden
8. Trench Of Corruption
9. Sharp Knives
10. Failed Assassin
11. Caustic Attack
12. Poison Gas Tsunami
13. Terror Cycles
14. Wasteland

The Review:

There are few bands in the history of grindcore as significant as Terrorizer, and yet they remain unsung heroes. Napalm Death lay the foundations, alongside contemporaries such as Extreme Noise Terror and Repulsion, but one could argue Terrorizer’s work has seen more of a direct influence.

The band is perhaps most acclaimed for their wildly savage debut, 1989’s “World Downfall”, which famously featured extreme metal demigods, David Vincent of Morbid Angel and Jesse Pintado, who would later join Napalm Death. With the incorporation of a more guttural vocal style as well as more technically accomplished riff work, while still maintaining the necessary socio-political aspect, this interpretation of the style has shown longevity, present in bands such as Wormrot, Nasum, and Insect Warfare. The album was more arcane and menacing than any grindcore album that had come before, and tragically, for 17 years it appeared to be the sole, defiant statement this band would make.

The band has since reformed twice. Firstly, in 2005 to release the so-so “Darker Days Ahead”, which displayed the band performing in a more linear fashion, instead of performing more of the straight-forward death metal Sandoval had been producing with his long-time day-job, Morbid Angel. The album would prove to be the final release featuring Jesse Pintado to be released in his lifetime, and while many look back on it as a fairly unimpressive swansong for an extraordinary character, the album still had moments which would please any fan anticipating their return. The 2012 follow-up

Hordes of Zombies” proved to be a further disappointment, virtually disregarding the savage hardcore that is so vital to impressive grindcore, and instead striving for a sluggish take on death metal. All hopes appeared dashed in relation to Terrorizer, as many began to forgivably disregard interest in their future.

When a long-standing band releases an album, fans often struggle to resist comparing it to their classic works, for better or for worse. In most cases, it is a valid comparison to make.  However, in the case of Terrorizer, it is important to make such a distinction; on “Caustic Attack”, they are down to just a single original member. With the exception of Sandoval, everyone on this album is making a debut performance. This could lead one to question the chemistry of this group; a band with a 30-year legacy ought to have remarkable chemistry, and this could prove difficult when 2/3rds of the band joined in 2013. However, it immediately becomes clear this is not an issue for Terrorizer, as “Caustic Attack” proves to be their most artistically successful album since their 2005 reformation.

It appears Terrorizer (or perhaps just Sandoval) have acknowledged they are a far more impressive grindcore band than they are a death metal band, and for the first time since coming back, they are leaning on that crutch. This provides an immediate refreshing quality to the album; gone is the continuous dirge of low-energy death metal the band have been pedalling for years, and present instead is a more violent, splintered attack. While still not as savage as the band's contemporaries, with Napalm Death and Pig Destroyer still proving they can be more menacing and grotesque than ever, there is an obvious improvement here. The band is clearly superior when they focus on 1-minute displays of brutality, highlights of the album including “Turbulence”, “Invasion”, “Poison Gas Tsunami”, and the intoxicating title-track.

The album is by no means flawless; firstly, some of the tracks are still overly long. Numerous tracks approach 5 minutes, and all of them prove to be the most tiresome moments on the record. The attacks feel dulled when they’re stretched out in this nature and these longer songs are simply not warranted.  The production is also a curiosity; it sounds more sharp and well-shaped than any of their past albums, and yet it feels lacking in the low-end and, in some moments, almost sparse. Were this given a production job courtesy of Kurt Ballou, Will Yip or Arthur Risk, this album would see an immediate improvement, and perhaps the tiresome ‘long songs’ would feel more digestible.

Overall, Terrorizer and their fans can call “Caustic Attack” a success; the band has cured some of the glaring ills present on their post-reunion works, as well as writing some songs that fans can genuinely look forward to hearing live and have earnt a place in their set list on merit alone. Grindcore is at its best when it feels like a disaster and on “Caustic Attack”, even if only for brief moments, Terrorizer sound positively apocalyptic.

“Caustic Attack” is available now

Band info: facebook