Album Review – Terror Universal / Make Them Bleed (2018)

Behold the rise of the masked fearsome foursome of modern American metal and their bloodthirsty, action-packed debut album.

Comprised of current and former members of rock and metal renowned acts such as Machine Head, Ill Niño, Soulfly and Upon A Burning Body, here comes American Horror Metal masked supergroup Terror Universal, who have been unstoppable since the band’s inception back in 2014, having released their debut EP Reign of Terror in 2015 and shared the stage alongside heavy hitters including Korn, Asking Alexandria, Papa Roach and Fear Factory, among others. Now in 2018 those masked marauders are set to release their debut full-length album Make Them Bleed via minus HEAD Records, an album that can undoubtedly be considered the musical equivalent of a slasher film due to its aggressiveness, tension, lunacy and obviously the distinctiveness and eccentricity of each of the band’s bizarre members.

Snapping from moments of intense sonic bloodletting into menacing melodic mayhem, before creeping back into the shadows to do it all over again, the fearsome foursome Plague on vocals, Thrax on the guitar, Diabolus on bass and Massacre on drums live up to the legacy of modern-day American Alternative and Groove Metal the likes of Slipknot, Mushroomhead, Five Finger Death Punch, Deftones, Disturbed and so on. Produced by the band’s own members and mixed by Eddie Wohl (Smile Empty Soul, Fuel, Ill Niño, 36Crazyfists), Make Them Bleed will become the soundtrack to your most wicked nightmares, blasting your senses with its avalanche of heavy and metallic sounds and noises.

And the monstrous quartet kicks off their freak show of metal with a ferocious tune titled Passage of Pain, where Diabolus and Massacre make sure the ambience remains as heavy, menacing and obscure as possible with their rumbling bass and drums, respectively, while Plague screams and shouts like a true beast. Then in Welcome to Hell (which you can also watch as a guitar playthrorugh and as a bass playthrough on YouTube) Plague sounds utterly enraged, while Thrax transforms his guitar into a bloodthirsty weapon, resulting in the perfect depiction of modern extreme and alternative music made in the USA; followed by Spines, where an electronic-ish intro quickly evolves into a very dark and melodic sonority that could easily be played on any radio station, but still feeling extremely heavy. Featuring guest musician John Moyer (Disturbed) on bass, this can be called “a love song crafted by monsters”, sounding somehow romantic and violent at the same time.

Taking their animosity to a much higher level, Terror Universal bring forth the title-track Make Them Bleed, with the amazing low-tuned punches by Diabolus making the whole song more impactful. Moreover, its neck-breaking rhythm is effectively boosted by Plague’s demented growls, turning it into their personal hymn of sheer rage against everything and everyone, perfect for “spreading the violence” and “fucking the world” as Plague himself screams during the song. Then in Through the Mirrors they engage in their most Slipknot/Stone Sour-inspired mode, with the sick beats by Massacre guiding the musicality while Plague fires his crisp, acid vocals, not to mention Thrax and his cutting riffs; followed by the excellent Dig You A Hole with its gripping pace and vocal lines, enhanced by the fierce circus-like beats by Massacre and the song’s spot-on backing vocals. This is definitely one of the best new Alternative/Nu Metal songs you can find out there, making us bang our heads like maniacs without even noticing together with those four masked beasts.

Featuring the unstoppable Tony Campos (Fear Factory, Ministry, Soulfly, Static-X) on bass, who ends up giving the overall sound an Industrial Metal-like vibe with his crushing bass lines, Dead on Arrival is an excellent option for the band’s live performances to make everyone jump up and down together with them, whereas Into Darkness offers the listener another blast of their modern-day Horror Metal, albeit not as exciting as the rest of the album. Let’s say that it’s not a bad tune, but those freaks of nature sound way too “docile” in this case. On the other hand, their most savage and bestial mode arises in a great explosion of Groove and Thrash Metal named Your Time Has Come, with Thrax and Diabolus leading the carnage with their razor-edged strings, before Piece by Piece concludes the album like a bulldozer, with its metallic sounds penetrating deep inside our ears while Plague alternates between growling like a demon and firing his keen clean vocals.

In summary, if you enjoy modern American metal with an extra dosage of insanity and fury, all wrapped up by the grim and monstrous faces of Terror Universal, you’ll certainly have a good time listening to the music from Make Them Bleed. You can face those four creatures from hell anytime through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and purchase your copy of the album through their BandCamp page, through their Pledge Music page, on iTunes or on Amazon. Just make sure you’re in good shape and ready to rock to the sound of Terror Universal because, you know, you won’t be dealing with regular people, but with rabid monsters of modern metal eager to taste your blood.

Best moments of the album: Welcome to Hell, Make Them Bleed and Dig You A Hole.

Worst moments of the album: Into Darkness.

Released in 2018 minus HEAD Records

Track listing    
1. Passage of Pain 3:57
2. Welcome to Hell 3:41
3. Spines (feat. John Moyer) 3:18
4. Make Them Bleed 3:32
5. Through the Mirrors 4:10
6. Dig You A Hole 4:35
7. Dead on Arrival (feat. Tony Campos) 3:34
8. Into Darkness 4:17
9. Your Time Has Come 3:21
10. Piece by Piece 3:06

Band members
Plague – vocals
Thrax – guitars
Diabolus – bass
Massacre – drums

Guest musicians
John Moyer – bass on “Spines”
Tony Campos – bass on “Dead on Arrival”

Album Review – Fear Factory / Genexus (2015)

Once again, it’s time to enter the machine and surrender to the mechanized reign ruled by the undisputed masters of Industrial Metal.

Rating4

fear factory_genexusI honestly don’t understand why the music by American Industrial Metal masters Fear Factory has never been part of any of the Terminator movies. I mean, ANY of their songs are powerful, metallic and atmospheric enough to provide the perfect background for all the destruction and chaos caused by the one and only Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is also the case with the music found in their brand new automaton entitled Genexus, the ninth studio album in their exceptional career and the first to feature drummer Mike Heller (Malignancy, System Divide).

However, it’s not only the density and strength of the music by this Los Angeles-based nonstop machine that amazes me every single time they release a new album, but also the whole futuristic concept surrounding their work. For instance, the new artwork, designed by American artist Anthony Clarkson, reminds me a lot of three iconic movie characters that have everything to do with what the music proposes: the unstoppable killing machine known as the Terminator; the brainy and rebel hero Iron Man; and the mesmerizing but extremely dangerous Ava (from the cult flick Ex Machina). Put differently, Fear Factory marvelously know how to give life and emotion to cold metal.

The opening track, Autonomous Combat System, is Industrial Metal at its finest from the very first second, a violent and harmonious tune just like we always expect from this amazing band, and when the sick riffs by the unparalleled Dino Cazares and the band’s famous industrial drums begin the energy level goes through the roof. And their futuristic awesomeness goes on in Anodized, another masterful lesson in shredding (who doesn’t love riffs like these?) supporting its meaningful lyrics from a not-so-impossible future for all of us (“A transhuman state / Will liberate man’s evolution / A singularity / Maintains the peace / Machined solution / Lacerate, eviscerate / My body to redefine / My design”). The performance by Mr. Burton C. Bell with both his harsh screams and clean vocals is superb, and if you’re a fan of Alternative Metal or Nu Metal let me tell you this is an awesome example of how everything started. In Dielectric, you can feel the electricity flowing nonstop, especially through its drums that sound like a machine gun, with its background effects being so important I cannot imagine this amazing tune without them.

Then it’s time to bang your fuckin’ head to the low-tuned bass lines by Tony Campos and the vicious riffs by Mr. Cazares in Soul Hacker, where its great chorus will stick inside your mind for sure, followed by the dynamic and thrilling rhythm of ProtoMech, enhanced by its excellent lyrics (“Take everything away from me / Replace my skin with circuitry / All that I have bleeding from me / To feed the machine”) and an amazing feeling provided by its mechanized atmosphere. In my humble opinion, this is the best song of the whole album, proving once again how skillfully Fear Factory are capable of feeding the Heavy Metal machine we all love so much.

fear factoryThe superb title-track, Genexus, is like a journey to a desolated world ruled by machines, exactly like what the future shows in the Terminator franchise, showcasing all the elements that took Fear Factory to stardom, with Burton sounding enraged and ready to confront the machine for his freedom. Church of Execution also provides that mechanic and industrialized sounding and an eerie ambience with lots of groove, despite not being as kick-ass as the others due to the lack of a more violent chorus; while Regenerate, with its weird robotic effects in the background, is perhaps one of the best examples of traditional Thrash Metal modernized by Industrial and Groove Metal. Moreover, I love the energy of its chorus, and how can we not bang our heads to it?

Battle for Utopia is intended to represent the march of the machines with its furious and imposing sonority, including lots of special effects to create the atmosphere desired by the band, before Expiration Date closes the album in a very traditional way, which in the case of Fear Factory means in the form of a melancholic music voyage. Pay good attention to the beauty of its lyrics, gently declaimed by Burton (“Under the surface we’re not machines / Under the surface we’re living dreams / Death lives just one breath away / Somewhere my heart beats in silence / I made my way through the violence / Nobody lives forever”), close your eyes and let yourself be absorbed by the music and its message, the final result is outstanding.

And finally, on a side note, the bonus tracks that come with the limited edition of Genexus keep up with the rest of the album in terms of complexity, violence and electricity, with highlights to the ominous atmosphere in the smooth Enhanced Reality. In summary, if you’re ready to enter the machine engendered  by Fear Factory for the first time, or if you already surrendered to their mechanized reign a long time ago, Genexus is definitely a must-have album to your collection of extreme and melodic music.

Best moments of the album: Autonomous Combat System, ProtoMech and Genexus.

Worst moments of the album: Church of Execution and Battle for Utopia.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Autonomous Combat System 5:28
2. Anodized 4:47
3. Dielectric 4:19
4. Soul Hacker 3:12
5. ProtoMech 4:56
6. Genexus 4:48
7. Church of Execution 3:21
8. Regenerate 4:02
9. Battle for Utopia 4:14
10. Expiration Date 8:48

Limited Digipak bonus tracks
11. Mandatory Sacrifice (Genexus Remix) 5:43
12. Enhanced Reality 5:36

Band members
Burton C. Bell – vocals
Dino Cazares – guitar
Tony Campos – bass guitar
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musicians
Deen Castronovo – drums on “Soul Hacker”
Laurent Tardy – piano on “Autonomous Combat System” and “Protomech”
Mister Sam – spoken words on “Autonomous Combat System” and “Expiration Date”
Damien Rainuad – programming, keyboards
Giuseppe Bassi – samples, keyboards