A word to the wise. Never forget the Angry Metal Law of Diminishing Recordings™, because it’s a cold, remorseless bitch. Terrorizer‘s World Downfall was a one-off project by members of Napalm Death and Morbid Angel, which went on to become a seminal, timeless classic and helped shape the “grind” scene for years to come. It captured black lightning in a whiskey bottle and was a truly special release. Naturally, the folks involved just couldn’t resist trying to recapture said lightning, and as expected, the results were sub par. Terrorizer‘s Darker Days Ahead was a very weak comeback, and with the passing of Jesse Pintado (R.I.P.), it seemed Terrorizer would lay itself to rest for good. Now, six years later, they erupt from the earth yet again with Hordes of Zombies. While they remain unable to recapture the greatness of World Downfall (as they always will), this is superior to Darker Days Ahead. However, that isn’t a high bar to hurdle, and while this is heavy as Brontosaurus shit, it isn’t all that interesting and becomes quite tiresome before concluding. That damn law, it shows no mercy, even to legendary bands.
Founding members Pete Sandoval and David Vincent are back, as is Anthony Rezhawk, who did vocals on the Darker Days misstep. To handle guitar, they bring along Katina Culture (Resistant Culture). Together, they throw a lot of raw, insanely fast grind/death at you, and go for a “shock and awe” type of album. Hordes is thirteen tracks of blazing riffs, thunderous, light-speed drumming and the super low-register grunts of Mr. Rezhawk. The title track explodes with a riff “borrowed” directly from Slayer‘s “War Ensemble,” but despite the borrowing, it’s a brutal, enjoyable track that morphs into a Morbid Angel style song. It’s very very fast, blasty, and the riffs get better as things go along. Rezhawk’s ridiculously deathy roar sounds good and doesn’t drown out everything else, as it did on Darker Days. The furious riffing and guitar squeals in “Ignorance and Apathy” also impress. After that however, Hordes settles into a very same-same run of mega-fast grind with no changeups or breaks. While the riffing on “Evolving Era,” “Flesh to Dust” and “Prospect of Oblivion” will likely grab your attention, a lot of the tracks just bleed together into a big, blasty mush and I had issues with my attention wandering off to other things (Kony 2012, cannibalism, sex robots and other normal stuff).
The riffs, which start out as a real attention grabber, begin to sound way too samey by the halfway point, and I found myself going back several times to see if the same ones were actually recurring in later songs. They aren’t, but they’re very similar. The same problem affects the vocals. They sound too samey and one-dimensional after awhile, even by death metal standards. Songs like “Broken Mirrors” and “Forward to Annihilation” have all the brutality possible and are insanely quick, but they just don’t resonate or become memorable.
Another problem is the utter lack of tempo shifts. Every song is a 110% full speed grind attack and the complete absence of a second gear becomes apparent by the fourth or fifth track. A slow grind here and there is always appreciated after so much warp speed blasting (see the new Asphyx for guidance).
If there’s a silver lining here, Hordes proves Pete Sandoval is back in a huge way as one of extreme metal’s best drummers. His playing here is off-the-charts insane and jaw dropping. The speed, the fills, the precision, it’s all there to hear and fear. The production is also quite solid, and way better than the one on Darker Days. The guitar tone is razor-sharp, nasty and sounds deadly as hell.
There was never a chance this would live up to the legacy of World Downfall, but the hopes it would be a good album on its own don’t pan out. It’s fast grind with flashes of Morbid Angel and Napalm Death, but ultimately non-essential, except for hardcore grind fiends or those eager to hear Sandoval’s furious return. Now, please leave the legacy to rest in peace, zombies and all.