Saturday, June 29, 2013

Holy Terror - Terror and Submission [1987]

Perhaps the reason both of Holy Terror's albums are considered cult classics today is that their sound deviated greatly from their surrounding peers, and it still feels fresh today. The Californians never once shied from exhibiting their own, versatile influences, and, having an odder spectrum of influences from their counterparts who shamelessly aped Slayer, Exodus, Possessed and Metallica, I imagine they had a hard time coping with their difficulties that arose over the fact their sound was peculiar and the quite thrash machine-gun, especially considering many bands were still at their crude beginnings in 1987. Holy Terror formed in 1986, just one year prior to the release of their megalithic thrash classic, and afterwards, in 1988, they would release a sequel, ''Mind Wars'', also a tempered current of atmospheric thrash, right before disbanding in 1989. Holy Terror is now nothing but an addendum in history books, much like many of the emergent thrash acts that popped up in that period, but they've given us two wondrous classics for a multitude of glorious neck-snapping sessions, the former one being the better.

The Californians had a tight, punchy formula arranged from the start, guaranteeing triumph from the very start. Unlike so many other vile speed/thrash attractions of the time, who filtered the nasty, gritty violence of their chords with insatiable stupor, Holy Terror maintained their control with articulate diligence, and kicked asses just as intensively as, say, Toxik (''World Circus'' era), Necropolis, Blessed Death and other East Coast cults that literally sprinted with their guitar work. Of course, that's not just it. There is a delicious sense of professionalism sandwiched amid a passionate cry towards the glories of the mosh pit, and the five-piece merely play a simple helping of filthy speed/thrash here; the guitars are loaded with atmospheric considerations and can often burst into more epic proportions of thrash metal, somehow similar to the US power metal acts of the time. There is a subtle sense of western ambiance as well, certainly something you don't come across frequently, even in today's standards; a fluid, tempered set of gears motioning in a way as to allure a huge range of thrash aficionados, all rupturing through the static rawness of the core parameters of the recording.

Yes, ''Terror and Submission'' is that good. The rumbling tenacity of the rapid riff progressions are only matched by the accuracy of more complex patterns that are stitched to the broader forms of riffing to render them further interesting. I'm sure that listeners who were only mildly taken by the bulldozing plethora of riffs found themselves deeply immersed in a sea of Keith Deen's spectacular vocal performance. I'm totally going to sound like I'm kissing his ass here, but fuck, his timbre is one of the most original in the field of thrash;  a hoovering range of blessed high-pitched screams that I find to be the principle ingredient to Holy Terror's cult status and atmospheric, almost ''apocalyptic'' touch. Just take ''Tomorrow's End'' as an example; the dual guitars grind their way to the atmospheric pinnacle of the album, showering the listener with a blistering rain of tremolos, all while Deen is vibrating sonorously above them, a completion of the near-flawless tune for the apocalypse. Of course, ''Tomorrow's End'' is hardly my favorite piece here. The title tracks progresses with immaculate speed and efficiency, a viscous ray of melodies constantly protruding from the stomping barrages of base rhythm, an exercise of the traditional power metal formula, practiced upon a speed/thrash basis. ''Alpha Omega - The The Bringer of Balance'' is my favorite tune out the entire 42 minute thing, and having raped the replay button with that one, I can safely say that it's one of the foremost individual speed/thrash pieces out there.

The many evocative aspects of ''Terror and Submission'' transfer a plenitude of moods and imagery into the listener's mind. Yes, it's not so emotionally resonating as an atmospheric black metal masterwork, but it will still conjure portrayals of religious war, the apocalypse and desolation, something that, much like the band's other tenets, is seldom found on other bands. The leads are spurious and unforgiving. They start spurting their content out of nowhere, a delighting discourse through the entirety of the fret board, all of which are courtesies of the two masterful guitarists. I don't see how, after such copious and extensive right hand guitar work, the guitarists still get to keep their fingers, because this is one fucking blistering ride of nostalgia that nobody's bound forget so easily. So angry and forceful and dangerous that blasting this through your stereos on a vigorous car trip with your college buddies would undeniably make someone jump right out of the car, towards escapism and beyond. Yet ''Terror and Submission'' covers a wide enough territory to both decapitate necks and swirl like a controlled, seasoned tempest. It's carefully crafted, the intricacies well applied to the music, and it stands as an enduring thrash classic. Its sequel is also a great record, but the Californians would reach their climax in 1987. Speed and blisters forever.

''Alpha Omega - The Bringer of Balance''
''Blood Of The Saints''
''Evil's Rising''
''Terror and Submission''

Final Rating
Masterpiece [9/10]