TERRORIZER — Caustic Attack (review)

TERRORIZER — Caustic Attack album cover Album · 2018 · Grindcore Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
Back in 1989, Terrorizer showed the metal world that grindcore didn’t have to be mired in shoddy D.I.Y. hardcore production and sounds, and could have a metallic sharpness to it. The band has rightly been praised and idolized for their influence on grind and death metal. Lyrically, they straddled the line between the political early grindcore, like Napalm Death and Sore throat, and the gore and horror of early death metal, like Autopsy and Necrophagia. Terrorizer was also famed for the high levels of musicianship demonstrated too, with the Morbid Angel pairing of Pete Sandoval and David Vincent showed that simply abusing the hell out of the kick and snare drums, and distorted blown-out weren’t the only way to play grindcore. Jesse Pintado’s breakneck riffage saw him fit in perfectly to Napalm Death.

For many years, it seemed “World Downfall” would be a one-off, treasured by fans of extreme metal the world over. Until 2006 it was. And then something happened to change history. Terrorizer dared “reform” and record a second album! “Darker Days Ahead” was poorly received, and was somewhat overshadowed by Pintado dying only days after it’s release. Another album “Hordes of Zombies” was released in 2012, and a fourth album, “Caustic Attack”, arrived in 2018. The three 21st century albums have been criticised for ruining the legacy of the band, and are supposedly pale imitations of the ’89 original.

The observant reader out there might have noticed the word “reform” was in “quotation marks”. It was like that for a “reason”. The criticism levelled at the “reformed” Terrorizer, and the three subsequent “albums” really is moronic. It is proof that those voicing these criticisms are elitist fools of the highest level, and have no idea of the true legacy of Terrorizer. A bold claim? Perhaps. But then, consider this:

TERRORIZER BROKE UP IN 1988.

Yep. There was no such band as Terrorizer in 1989 when “World Downfall” was released. What’s more, some of the songs on “World Downfall” weren’t even Terrorizer songs. Explanation time.

After Terrorizer broke up, Sandoval joined Morbid Angel, and vocalist Oscar Garcia continued to work with his other band Nausea. Bass player Alfred Estrada ended up in jail. Enter one Shane Embury. Napalm Death’s four string grind maestro Embury loved Terrorizer’s demos and the split they had shared with the aforementioned Nausea. He pestered Earache Record’s main man Dig Pearson into funding a posthumous Terrorizer album. And the rest is history? Well, not quite. There was the matter of recording the album.

Sandoval was ensconced in Morrisound Studios in Florida, busy recording Morbid Angel’s incendiary debut “Altars of Madness”. Garcia and Pintado arrived at the studios to put the album together. Busting Estrada out of jail was a bit beyond the resources of the band, so Sandoval’s band mate Vincent was pulled in to cover bass and some vocal duties. Right so time to rip into it? Er, not quite… Garcia had also played guitar in the original Terrorizer, but realised he couldn’t remember how to play most of the songs. No matter, Pintado had that covered. And away we go… almost. There weren’t actually enough Terrorizer songs to fill an album. What to do? Well, why not borrow some Nausea songs. So they did. Eight hours in the studio, with Vincent and Scott Burns twiddling the knobs in the studio, and “World Downfall” and Terrorizer were done.

So, a band which no longer existed recorded a single album of songs that weren’t even all theirs in super quick time, and what happened? Well, basically everyone fucked off to their respective new gigs, “World Downfall” hit the shelves, and extreme metal fans went mad for it.

So, back to the present day. 29 years after the band’s debut, a fourth Terrorizer album has arrived. There will be the usual naysayers and elitists going on about how it won’t be as good as the original, and that present day Terrorizer isn’t Terrorizer, that it’s a cash-in, a rip-off, a fake, or whatever else. Let them fester in their smug elitist stink. Anyone who takes the time to actually listen to “Caustic Attack” will be rewarded with what Terrorizer has always produced – sharp, intelligent metallic grindcore which is both thought provoking and fun at the same time.

The biggest difference between “Caustic Attack” and “World Downfall” is the improvement in production and sound quality. While “World Downfall” set new standards for grindcore clarity, “Caustic Attack” is sharper still.

Sandoval’s performance in particular is stunning. He has more room to explore looser high speed rhythms than he did in Morbid Angel. Three decades have not dulled the man’s skills in the slightest. From the first moments of lead-off track “Turbulence” he’s straight into his trademark machinegun double kick drums and rattling the snare like a man possessed. What is also instantly obvious is that the trademark Terrorizer riffs are there in bucketloads, and that the new line-up of Sandoval, bassist/vocalist Sam Molina and guitarist Lee Harrison are a match of any previous line-up of the band.

In the past, Terrorizer has mainly produced on short songs, with only a few making it past the three minute mark. Hell, the legendary “Dead Shall Rise” only just clocked past that mark at 3:05. This time out, there are a few longer songs. Does it mean the band has slowed down at all? Nah, you definitely haven’t been paying attention. Five songs come in over four minutes long. This is not a bad thing at all. It just means there’s more Terrorizer to savour. “Crisis” is the first of the longer tracks, but it doesn’t seem like it.

That’s not to say that the hardcore blasts of the past have disappeared either. The title track and “Poison Gas Tsunami” are sharp and, well, caustic and leave the listener salivating for more.

There’s nothing groundbreaking or new on offer here. That is not why you listen to Terrorizer, because the band broke that ground already, in 1989. This is simply the fourth installment from a highly influential band which never managed to record an album in it’s original incarnation. Anyone unable to get past that is a fool to themselves. Extreme metal, grindcore, deathgrind, or whatever other label you want to slap on this band, simply doesn’t get much better than this.
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UMUR wrote:
13 days ago
I just listened to this one today, and it´s a great album. I´m in the process of writing my review.
Nightfly wrote:
17 days ago
It's great isn't it! Ordered it myself a few days ago. Great review and history lesson.
Vim Fuego wrote:
17 days ago
Thanks for that. This would be my album of the year, except the Alien Weaponry has edged it just slightly.
Tupan wrote:
17 days ago
Man, what an awesome review! Very informative, now I need to check this one too!

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