Terror Empire - The Empire Strikes Black
An email appeared in my inbox last week, nothing exciting and particularly unusual about that, however what was different was the subject of this email which simply read Review? What an opportunity I thought to myself as I proceeded to rush past the rest of the email, ignoring the main details and desperately clicking links, eagerly anticipating what the editor had sent to me. The link gave me a the band name but not much on the front of what genre and style this band would be. Terror Empire are their name and The Empire Strikes Black is the name of their latest album.
Upon selecting the first track, The Empire Strikes, my sound system already primed to receive what I only presumed would be some amateur tat that you would be lucky to get through half a song without vomiting. How wrong my expectations were. The sub woofer kicked in first, a low undertone, an ambient wind like sound rumbled and then the first chord struck like the hands of a clock reaching your final hour. Continuing on, a riff reminiscent of early Black Sabbath played between each struck chord. The lead guitarist appeared to tease the main riff harmonising and weaving syncopated melodies creating something special, these are not amateurs by any means.
I knew instantly I liked what I heard, I only prayed the vocals were going to meet the same musical standards set in the introduction by the guitarists Alexandre and Alves, bassist Puga and drummer Dourado. The Empire Strikes leads the listener into a ferocious frenzy for Black, throwing away all my misconceptions I could of been given a rubbish album to review. Involuntary head movements up and down confirmed that this was infact awesome! Here is a band its fair to say I'd go and see, if their live shows are anything close to this studio album then I urge you to check them out.
Vocally, each track holds well, Ricardo Martin's aggressive shouting style is very much Slayer in a nut shell, this is good, I've always found Slayers vocals a bit easier to understand, albeit the speed of which Araya sings them. Songs like Revolution Now show off the vocals more, really exposing Martin's dynamic range. There is a level of sing-a-longability to tracks like Servant and Skinned Alive, so much so that it requires made up words to be used to get my point across. I can really imagine myself throwing my fist in the air chanting back at this band like a brainwashed soldier giving his allegiance to the Terror Empire.
Halfway into the album and I've already decided I really like this band and finding a negative point to say was going to prove very difficult, and that is because there is nothing wrong with this album, production wise its great, through a loud sound system the crisp guitars pop out and the bass shakes my very soul. The drummer is a machine, Dourado's blast beats, and fantastic double bass drumming keeps me keen to hear more. A band is only as good as the drummer in my opinion and Dourado does them proud. Puga matches him beat for beat and keeping up with those feet can't be an easy feat.
I've got a special place in my heart for tracks that use sound clips at the start, its not original, but it really can set the tone for a track. Route of the Damned is brutal, using a Shakespeare quote from his play Julius Caesar to open up, the track rips into a Dethklok-esque assault which has me applauding them, it's only half way in and I'm thoroughly impressed, I have albums by bands I already love that I wouldn't rate as high as this one.
The latter half of the Empire Strike Black gives us Man Made of Sand, Reality Check and Protective Wolveswhich continue the Thrash/Death Metal trend set in the first half of the album. All well written, all of them have their highlights, but nothing ground breaking though, not from what I can hear anyway.
As an avid Thrash Metal fan I can see why I've fallen for this band. It is refreshing to hear a band doing what I love, not changing the formula really, but perhaps that's the only thing that can really be misconstrued as a negative. Terror Empire play fast and hard, their ability is not in question, their loyalty to their genre is admirable and I'm glad they do what they do, there is the old saying: If it isn't broken, don't fix it.
"Route of the Damned is brutal, using a Shakespeare quote from his play Julius Caesar to open up, the track rips into a Dethklok-esque assault which has me applauding them"
Strings of Rebellion starts similar to the other tracks preceding it, but somewhere around the halfway mark the middle eight section comes in and it becomes very Pantera quite quickly, the outro, the deep south sound they use really does this track justice,just when I thought they may have been a one trick monkey, it provides enough variety to keep me entertained, slowing their usual bullet speed tempo long enough for me to re-adjust my neck for more hardcore headbanging.
The Empire Strikes Black's closing tracks do not break the chain of speed and sheer brutal force now made customary by the rest of the album. Good Friends Make The Best Enemies chorus is catchy in its own way and Break The Cycles combination of blasts, shredding and tremolo picking makes it a phenomenal song to close the album with.
Is this album for you? Well if you like fast drums, heavy guitar riffs, aggressive vocals, intricate melodies, fast virtuosic playing and have a good tolerance for neck pain then yes. Does it dive into a world of unknown? No, but then again it doesn't have to. When Terror Empire come to the UK from their home country of Portugal I hope they grace us Mancunians with their presence as there is one moshpit you will find me in for sure.
Words: Danny Gregory www.terrorempire.net