Terminal Nation – Echoes of the Devil’s Den


Terminal Nation sprayed their watercannon on the death metal scene in 2020 when they unleashed their debut album, Holocene Extinction. A mixture of anti-establishment hardcore and crusty extreme metal, it put them on the map as insurgents that cannot be ignored. Since then, they’ve released a 7-inch single called, ‘Cop Drop’, and issued a split record with Kruelty. Seething anger is their weapon of choice, and their sophomore album foams at the mouth with enough vitriol to re-occupy Wall Street. Are you ready for Echoes of the Devil’s Den?

It’s somewhat surprising that Terminal Nation start album number two with a dungeon synth motif straight from the Troll 2 soundtrack (widely considered the worst horror film of all time). Fortunately, the guitars take over after fifteen seconds with a buzz saw chug against the strings, and the drums establish a slow doom metal beat before you can scratch your scalp. It’s easy to identify the quintet’s hardcore roots in the groove and aggression of their music, but the exterior is pure death metal. These boys are not the first – and won’t be the last – hardcore band to take Bolt Thrower as their main inspiration.

It soon becomes clear that a crusty doom metal edge is just as important to Terminal Nation as their death metal credentials. ‘Written by the Victor’ starts like vintage Celtic Frost and then accelerates into a vicious attack from the double-kick drums. Stan Liszewski’s husky vocals do not feel natural, but that’s because few people would project their voice in this type of low register. Like Obituary, Terminal Nation see no need to chain their rhythms to the blast beats. You feel like your feet are trapped in a marsh for most of ‘The Spikes Under the Bridge’. By contrast, ‘No Reform (New Age Slave Patrol)’ is a call to the streets to overthrow authority. Think of it as death metal played with the syncopated spike of hardcore. You can sway your shoulders and raise your chest in time with the rhythms as Liszewski enunciates his words with the same repugnance a child shows for his packed lunch. “Fuck every fucking cop that’s ever fucking lived,” is the message here. They repeat it in case you missed it the first time.

Does Echoes of the Devil’s Den achieve its purpose and wake you from your ignorance to the social injustices on your doorstep? To be fair, it gives you little room to switch off. That’s because it creeps into your veins like a rougher version of Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. merged with the punishing death metal of Venom Prison. “All I am is hate,” repeats Liszewski in an act of self-flagellation during ‘Empire in Decay’. An intoxicating violence permeates through every palm-muted chord and hit of the snare drum in ‘Merchants of Bloodshed’. ‘Dying Alive’ is death metal as a street scuffle, but the band play their breakdown parts like a doom band.

Terminal Nation show that death metal can thrill when it takes the blood-boiling aggression of hardcore as its foundations. This helps them sidestep monotony by ignoring the trend for playing obscure jazz chords in distortion. Instead, clouds of feedback gather underneath the surface as sludgy riffs emerge from the amps in a slow drooping motion.

The band’s name gives it away, but their music follows in a pessimistic tone that only a misanthrope or cynic could enjoy on constant rotation. Should you overlook this when the result is as heavy as the rusty engine of a steam train? Absolutely, not. And who said that politics should only be conducted at the ballot box?


Verdict


Release Date: 03/05/2024

Record Label: 20 Buck Spin

Standout tracks: Echoes of the Devil’s Den; Merchants of Bloodshed; Bullet for a Stone

Suggested Further Listening: Nails – Abandon All Life (2013), Fuming Mouth – The Grand Descent (2019), Kruelty – Immortal Nightmare (2020)