When a band has a long gap between releases there are three possible questions that always emerge around a new album’s launch date: Have they lost it from being out of the game for too long? Will it be more of the same? Is the new one going to be a step up from their last release? I have seen many bands fall into the first two categories over the years and when Terminatryx‘ new album, Shadow, landed on my desk the same questions started running through my mind.
They say to not judge a book by it’s cover – but this isn’t a book. To put it simply, the art and presentation of Shadow is exquisite. From the photo manipulation by Dr. Benway to the tasteful design and layout, the physical album immediately feels like a solid, conceptually clear endeavour. Terminatryx have carefully crafted a striking visual identity over the years between albums, and this is no exception.
Now sporting a full band, the clarity and texture in the sounds on Shadow is especially apparent. Everything feels warmer and thicker and from the first notes of opener/intro “Metropolis” it’s audible that plenty of care went into the mix of the album – the mastering work of South African producer extraordinaire Theo Crous (K.O.B.U.S., Springbok Nude Girls) is palpable! The album also feels a lot more metal than it’s predecessor. The electronics have taken a backseat and serve to augment the guitar riffing, driving the songs instead.
The album bursts forth strong and loud! It’s in your face metal that – dare I say it – is actually quite radio friendly. It’s still dark and perhaps “Holy” is a little too aggressive to share with your parents, but I can totally imagine “Scars”, with its catchy lead line over an anthemic chorus making a few uninitiated heads bob. The title track pulls the darkness in closer and the instruments take a bit of a back seat to lead vocalist Sonja Ruppersberg’s crooning. The dark, brooding mood gets ripped aside with the upbeat, punky track “Purifire” and the lurching riffs of “Nothing” taking its place. Shadow approaches the finish line strong with thundering guitars and ethereal vocals on the instrumental track “Outcast”, channeling shades of Dimmu Borgir with it’s orchestral bombast and finally closes with the most industrial-sounding track, “Medusa”. Synths pulse alongside abrasive guitars and growled backup vocals give the lyrics a much rougher edge.
One thing that leaves me a little cold is that, despite the lengthy credits of featuring artists on the album, there was very little effort made to ‘feature’ them or otherwise draw attention to the additional personnel. I really had no clue where a featured artists was doing their thing and where the actual members were unless I checked the liner notes.
That aside, Shadow is a strong sophomore release and thankfully does everything right to improve on the groundwork laid by their self-titled album and countless live shows. For a genre that does not seem to be in vogue in South Africa at all, Terminatryx has given the industrial scene a much-needed kick in the pants!
Stream the title track from Shadow below: