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Terrorizer - Caustic Attack

Caustic Attack
by Chris Hawkins at 12 November 2018, 2:45 PM

Formed in 1986 in Los Angeles, California, TERRORIZER served as a massive, though short-lived spring board from which several musicians became successful in Death Metal and Grindcore.  Pete Sandoval, the drummer, is the only original member, and he also played with David Vincent in MORBID ANGEL and on the first TERRORIZER release.  He and David were actually recording “Altars of Madness” when they recorded “World Downfall”.  Of course, Jesse Pintado played guitar in the original lineup and went on to play with NAPALM DEATH.  The band’s legacy and involvement in the proliferation of Death Metal cannot be over stated.  “Caustic Attack” is the band’s fourth studio album and upon first diving in, I was initially struck by how the songs sound almost familiar.  Perhaps this is due to how much the band’s influence has shaped Death Metal and Extreme Metal in general.  Of course, it could also be due to the fact that multiple prerequisites are subsequently filled going through the album that mandate my personal taste.  Regardless, this is an album you, the reader, must hear.

Turbulence” is a fitting title for the opener.  This is nothing short of a sheer onslaught on the senses.  It is immediately apparent how precise the performances here are.  A perfect track to follow, “Invasion” extends the vibe and expands the attack.  Tremolo picking is used to accentuate the grinding drums.  “Crisis,” the fifth track, contains a more mid-paced groove setting it apart from the songs that preceded it.  When the blasting starts, though it is mind blowing.  Sandoval’s feet and arms seem to dictate the tempo and the other guys nail the brutality to answer his call.

There are so many good riffs in the eighth track, “Trench of Corruption,” that lost count at the one-minute mark.  At 1:32, there is a unique riff by the guitar that is met with huge bass notes.  Sometimes less is more indeed.  This band is so articulate that every nuance of the guitar picking, the bass delivery, and the percussion is discernible.  They are one of those bands that their shows cause your shirt to move when they palm-mute.

Ninth track, “Sharp Knives,” is based around a classic Punk-side of NAPALM DEATH.  Throughout this record, I’ve had some band names enter my head, but it doesn’t seem fair to compare veterans such as TERRORIZER to bands that haven’t been doing it as long.  One left-field remark I will make to close the subject is that there have been moments where I hypothesized that this is the sound I had pictured for SEPULTURA down the road before they went through drastic stylistic changes and Max Cavalera’s exit.  There is an almost militaristic feel to many of the best riffs on here, a feeling conveyed by a commanding band.

The eleventh track, “Caustic Attack,” is only one minute long but has its own vibe albeit concise.  This is definitely from the band’s Grindcore side.  “Wasteland” is the ideal final track of the album and the second-longest.  Based around the lower notes on the fretboard, the beginning riff somehow delivers this without boredom.  The brief double bass solo part delivers a riff with an arpeggio akin to Black Metal that then transitions into a low breakdown that may be the moshing highlight of the album.  The band clearly knew what they were doing in saving this for last.

Pete Sandoval’s drumming performance is exceptional and inspiring.  Though the other two guys, Sam Molina (bass, vocals) and Lee Harrison (guitar) are new for this album, they are seasoned veterans in their own rights.  Both spent time in MONSTROSITY, and Harrison, who is still a member of that band, has played with MALEVOLENT CREATION and MIDNIGHT among many others.  The collective experience of the band is on display and lends itself to the top-notch sound and execution.  Yes, it is indeed a drum fest, a display of the talents of one of the all-time masters.  The bass and guitar offer ample fury to make the songs truly work.  The riffs are technically impressive and injected with just enough melody while the bass is constantly pulsing audibly underneath with a mammoth-sized tone.  Seriously, the bass tone is fat and nasty.  What makes the riffs so interesting is that though they fit well together, they always sound fresh.

It is undoubtedly the perfect climate for this album.  With so much interest in OSDM, it is imperative that a classic band be at the top of their game.  TERRORIZER may not have ever sounded so good.  The band would definitely be better categorized as Death Metal than Grindcore these days as the sound is quite varied.  There is an emphasis it seems on the pit.  The transitions and peaks and valleys expand the band’s sound and actually make them sound more brutal.  If you dig NAILS and ROTTEN SOUND, this is essential.  That goes without saying, though, so I shall thus extend this to all Metal fans:  TERRORIZER helped develop Extreme Metal and this album shows that they are as relevant as ever.  This is highly recommended.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8


4 Star Rating

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
Pete Sandoval- Drums
Lee Harrison– Guitars
Sam Molina – Bass, Lead Vocals
Record Label: The End Records


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Edited 10 December 2022

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