HOLY TERROR — Mind Wars (review)

HOLY TERROR — Mind Wars album cover Album · 1988 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
It would be easy to write off Holy Terror’s ‘Mind Wars’ as yet another 1980s thrash has-been.

This album has all the hallmarks of everything corny and cheesy related to that period. The tattered record sleeve (you didn’t expect it to be a CD did you?) usually lurks at the back of bins full of old second hand records, because no one really knows anything about the album. Examine the front cover and you’ll see amateurish artwork, which looks like an art student friend of the band drew it. The back cover is even worse, a maggot-infested mummy. The band logo looks like a puddle of dog vomit. Inside is a collage of photos of the band in full mullet glory trying to look "metal–as–fuck", but doing silly things with bottles of beer at the same time. This is an archaeological deposit of a bygone era, a buried treasure to be unearthed and coveted. What separates ‘Mind Wars’ from any one of hundreds of dodgy old thrash albums is the musical content within. Holy Terror may not have ever made much of a dent in the world of metal, such is the injustice of it all, but deserved to. Balls to the wall thrash, anti–Christian rantings, and tales of death, destruction and dementia abound. It is easy to visualise the band playing live, bullet belts, windmilling hair, foot–on–the–monitor poses, stage divers dragging themselves out of and hurling themselves into a swirling mass of chaos in front of the stage.

Holy Terror seemed to take their musical cues from the early days of the Bay Area scene. There's a big helping of Exodus, a definite Testament influence, a hint of Possessed, and perhaps a dash of Slayer or Dark Angel. The guitar duo of Kurt Kilfelt and Mike Alvord were well versed in the fine art of technical thrash riffs. Even technical innovators like later era Death, Forbidden and Sadus would have been proud of the guitar work.

To fit the complex music, Holy Terror penned some very intelligent and thoughtful lyrics. While the anti-Christian theme had been explored before in thrash, it was rarely approached from a theological and philosophical point of view. Unfortunately, this probably helped contribute to Holy Terror’s demise, because the lyrics simply aren’t sing-along material.

‘No Resurrection’ is the pick of the excellent bunch here. A tirade against some of the points central to Christianity, like the afterlife and the resurrection of Christ, the argument against it is posed in a thought–provoking manner. The song kicks off with a riff which is essential air guitar material. From there, it's neck–snapping thrash through ‘til the end, with the odd detour into some unusual territory, with unexpected key changes, off kilter solos, and some tasty drum work.

‘The Immortal Wasteland’ is a bit of an odd track out. Rather than the biting thrash of the other songs, it is reminiscent of Iron Maiden with Exodus' Steve Souza on vocals. It features twin leads, a bouncing bass line, and perhaps the most conventional vocal performance on the whole album.

If you are ever in need of a good dose of thrash, and you're sick of the big names, check this out and try to figure out why Holy Terror got left behind.
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