Terminalist – The Great Acceleration

We’re a bit beghind on this one, as I forgot to schedule the review properly… Asa takes dive into the latest EP from Terminalist that came out last Friday.

Terminalist are a self-proclaimed “Hyperthrash” band from Copenhagen, Denmark. Formed in 2018, they released an E.P in 2019 called ‘Abandon All Liberties’ and are set to release their debut album, ‘The Great Acceleration’ in May, 2021. The line-up features Emil Hansen (Vocals/Guitar), Morten Brunn (Guitar), Kali Tiihonen (Bass) and Frederik Amris (Drums). So, with the short introduction out of the way, you’re probably wondering what the hell even is Hyperthrash? If you guessed Blackened/Progressive/Technical Death-Thrash with a hearty dose of Sci-Fi epicness then you wouldn’t be far off. Think of bands like Vektor, Voivod, Obliveon, Cryptosis or Cryptic Shift and you’re in the right ballpark. However, descriptions aren’t really all that important over here, what truly matters is the music. So, let’s take a dive into ‘The Great Acceleration’ and see what awaits!

 ‘Relentless Alteration’ starts things off in blistering fashion with dense, dizzying Thrash riffs galore. An additional technical flair and some flourishes of blackened dissonance add to the chaotic riffing. Emil bellows his guttural roars over the top and the drums reign intergalactic fire into your ears. There’s Black Metal tremolo picked riffs accompanied by blast beats and a progressive middle section to change things up midway through. This is the shortest song on the album, and it gives you a little taste of what’s to come. A suitably menacing yet catchy way to open the proceedings, and one that gets you excited for what is to follow. ‘Terminal Dispatch’ starts with a fantastic mid-paced groove before switching into the maddening, spacey Thrash riffs you’ve come to expect from this type of music. The shifting tempos work well together and it’s something that continues throughout the song. It proves that the band don’t have just sheer speed in their arsenal (though there is plenty of that). There’s more tremolo picked riffs, though of the more Death Metal variety this time, which are obviously accompanied by blast beats. We get treated to our first solo of the album halfway through, and it’s a suitably shreddy affair. After this we get into another tempo shift that treats us to some interesting chord progressions and some excellent leads. It’s the best part of the song and contrasts excellently with the sections before.

‘Invention Of The Shipwreck’ is the longest song on the album, coming in at an impressive 10 minutes and 57 seconds. It starts with these atmospheric spaceship sounds before an explosion of blackened riffs and punishing blast beats take over. Dissonant picked chords pave the way for a slowed tempo and epic power chords. It’s dark, brooding and drenched in a thick atmosphere. These previous elements combine into one monstrous verse that is Black Metal heavy on the tremolo picking and blast beats, but with the added dissonance to add that cosmic flair. Double bass kick runs bring another level of destruction to the tremolo picking before the tempo shifts into overdrive, as does the technicality. Classic Hyperthrash madness ensues in all its splendor, throwing riff after riff in your face, all of them as infectious as the next. We’re treated to another solo and it’s a blistering exercise in shred that will please all the guitar nerds out there. Things slow back down for the outro as the atmosphere thickens once more, with the addition of a darkly melodic bass solo that isn’t short of some impressive technical flourishes. It’s a suitably spectacular way to end a monolithic song. Despite the rather long length, it doesn’t feel any longer than the previous tracks, a testament to the bands strong writing chops.

The penultimate track, ‘Estranged Reflection’, starts things off with haunting clean guitars paired with raspy vocals before a mid-paced stomper comes along to wreck your neck. Dissonance is king in this track with ringing notes flirting with chaotic riffs before things shift into hyper speed with the type of riffing you expect from these guys. Another impressive solo leads us back to where things began as the clean guitars are joined by monstrous chords and things slowly begin to fade. We’re now onto the last track and it’s another lengthy one. ‘Dromocracy’, despite not being as long as ‘Invention Of The Shipwreck’, still clocks in at 9 minutes and 13 seconds. These two tracks alone make up more than half of the running time of this album. It begins with a classic hi-hat count in before chunky, atmospheric chords backed with swinging drums bring us some behemoth grooves. Of course, this is quickly interrupted in favour of ear-splitting blast beats and tremolo picked riffs. Tempos switch as frequently as the atmosphere does, going from headbanging riff fests to terrifying dissonance in mere seconds. The song charges on at the speed of light, creating a maelstrom of crazy, frantic riffs that leave your jaw on the floor and the rest of your body turned to dust. At the mid-point of the track the tempo slows to bring about some incredible Doom-ladened riff work that feels gargantuan in scope and oppressive in nature. The basis of this blends into a blackened version of itself, like the song is being twisted and contorted into something more threatening. Leads switch to continuously add a building sense of urgency before it, quite literally, reaches a breaking point and explodes into one last haunting refrain.

So, where to begin? Well, let’s talk about the playing first. Everyone does a great job here. The playing, from everyone, is spot on and everything sounds incredibly tight. It all sounds like a cohesive unit and nothing is messy, which is a must for music as intricate as this. Emil and Morten are very talented guitarists, and they work brilliantly together. Kali is a fantastic bassist and the short moments they have to shine are used to outstanding effect. The bass solo in ‘Invention…’ is a highlight from the album, but the bass is brilliant everywhere, working well with both the guitars and the drums. Speaking of drums, Frederik is an absolute machine behind the kit and more than carries this band throughout the album. There are times where the band choose to just ride a riff for a long period of time and the drums are what keep things interesting during those moments. They never overplay stuff for the sake of doing so, just doing whatever is necessary to take the songs to that next level. The precision is impressive and is exactly what this band needs. Emil’s vocals are fine. They’re nothing insane but they do the job and do it well. It would be nice to see some increased range but for the most part, they fit well with the music. The raspy vocals over the clean guitars in ‘Estranged…’ are particularly haunting and stick out on the album.

The mix is brilliant stuff, making all the instruments and additional layers easy to hear. Nothing is fighting in the mix and it sounds clean, but not overly clean. There’s still a bit of grit and dirt left underneath to give it that old school Thrash vibe. As for the songwriting, it’s top tier stuff. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before but that isn’t a bad thing. More and more bands are starting to adopt this style and I love it. It’s the right mix progressive, technical, blackened elements with old school Death Thrash, but without sacrificing catchy riffs and brilliant solos. The longer songs on the album don’t feel any longer than the shorter ones, they’re always keeping you engaged and changing things up just as you think you know what to expect. I’ve already said that it’s a testament to their craftsmanship and I still stand by that. These guys know how to write damn good songs, whether they’re 5-minute Thrash fests or 11-minute epics. Overall, this is a brilliant debut album and I’m excited to see what comes from them further in the future. If you’re into the new wave of Sci-Fi themed Thrash then you’ll love this. It’s got so many different elements for you to chew on and it’s always fun to listen to. There are plenty of riffs to please the Thrash happy crowd, but also plenty of different elements for those looking for music with a little more substance. Regardless of where you sit on the Metal spectrum, there’s something you’ll get out of giving this a spin. I’m hoping this one doesn’t just fly under the radar because it deserves your attention. I have no doubt this will be a strong contender for Album Of The Year for many, and I think I’m included in that. Give it a listen and support Terminalist as much as you can. I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring to us next!

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