"I know the pain you feel," are the first words you hear Scott Vogel deliver on "This World Never Wanted Me," the opening cut on Total Retaliation, Terror's seventh studio album. Delivered over a bed of chunky electric guitar, the singer's words feel both encouraging and ominous at the same moment.
When the second verse comes along, our man exclaims, "This world wasn't meant for me, not part of your society," but he does this stuttering thing when he says "society" that oozes with so much fucking attitude that you know the Buffalo hardcore legend meant it.
I'm fixating on "This World Never Wanted Me" because it's one of the best lead-off tracks on a hardcore album I've heard in years. It's not one of those speed-crazed songs that comes out of the gate like a chicken with its head cut off. Instead, the song keeps to a slithering-like pace, setting a tone for the rest of the album that lives up to both Terror's band name and the title to their new record.
When "Mental Demolition"—the second track on Total Retaliation—bursts open, the Los Angeles hardcore crew quicken the pace and it doesn't let up on the follow-up song, "Get Off My Back." Oh, and the gang vocals are in full effect, as they always should on a Terror album.
Produced by Will Putney (Body Count, Vein), the sound of Total Retaliation is tremendous, and that truly became obvious after I listened to another brand-new hardcore album right after it. From top to bottom, every sonic aspect of the record (vocal lines, guitar nuances, bottom end, etc.) comes banging out of the speakers with punch and clarity. Jordan Posner and Martin Stewart's guitars—both the riffs they play and the way they sound—are metallic hardcore ear candy.
Songs like "Spirit of Sacrifice" and "Suffer the Edge of the Lies" prove that just when you think every sick guitar riff has already been used, there's more to be tapped.
If you allow me to nerd out a bit, there's a track on Total Retaliation called "Behind the Bars" which has an intro section that reminds me of Crown of Thornz in the best way possible. If you're a fellow Train Yard Bluez mark, you'll see what I mean:
For Terror to sound this energized and commanding seven albums into their career (pretty much unheard of in hardcore), should be inspiring to both their fellow scene vets and also the younger acts on the come-up.