Terrordome – Straight Outta Smogtown Review

What, I ask myself as I embark on my fifth or sixth listen of Straight Outta Smogtown, is the point of guest vocals. Guest vocals that work best are those that allow a band to deliver something markedly different from what they would otherwise do. Look at the two recent collaborations between Thou and Emma Ruth Rundle, for a recent example, or, going back a quite a long way now, look at Dave Grohl’s Probot. Although Probot was a far from a perfect album, the way the numerous vocalists were used, delivered a very different character for each track. So what have Polish thrashers Terrordome fashioned with a number of additional vocalists who guest on their third full-length, Straight Outta Smogtown?

Well, nothing markedly different from their two previous albums, 2011’s We’ll Show You Mosh, Bitch! and its 2015 follow up Machete Justice. The four piece from Kraków play frenetic, breathless thrash, designed to appeal to fans of the likes of Nuclear Assault and Municipal Waste. There is little in the way of subtlety here, as new drummer Rob Sixkiller smashes the living shit out his kit, and longstanding guitarists Paua Siffredi and Uappa Terror crank out relentless, if slightly derivative, thrash riffs. In places, the feverish pace breaks down into a crunchy, bassy chug (“Desordem e Regresso”), which offer a much-needed change of pace. The bass, handled by Virious, is at its best on the likes of “Your Person Comfort Versus the Global Disaster” and Ego-Boost Downfall,” where Terrordome mix things up, allowing the breakneck tempo to briefly slacken, with a decent groove to developing.

As well as guitars, Terror also handles vocals for Terrordome, who draft in at least five guest vocalists across Straight Outta Smogtown. Majoring in a hoarse, almost hardcore, bark for most of his delivery, Terror also digresses into curious, and all ill-advised, spoken word passages challenges across the record, including the curious exhortation on “Plastic Death”: ‘hey dude, let’s chew on a plastic straw together, now.’ The guests don’t add a lot frankly. That’s nothing against those involved, including Sodom’s Frank Blackfire, but they all tend toward a similar delivery and Terrordome have not penned anything very different musically on those tracks where they’re utilised, meaning that many of the guest spots go largely unnoticed, save that you suddenly realise in places (“Worried Again”) there are multiple vocal lines. The one exception to this is on “Desordem e Regresso,” which is one of the album’s better cuts and sees Brazilian duo Manu Joker (Sarcófago) and Jairo (Chaos Synopsis) trading gruff vocal assaults that make it hard not to think of vintage Sepultura.

At its best, Straight Outta Smogtown sees Terrordome deliver some enjoyable thrash riffs and rapid solos (“Money Kills”), set to a very headbang-able groove (“Ego-Boost Downfall” and “I Don’t Care”). That best is solid for what it is but, ultimately, derivative, and offers little we’ve not heard before. At the other end of the scale, however, Smogtown is simply uninspired, feeling at times like the band think all they have to do is play fast and with energy, and they’ll have achieved their goal (“Worried Again” and “Steel on the Road”). That said, Straight Outta Smogtown is at least a marked improvement on Terrordome’s previous two outings in production terms, with the debut being borderline unlistenable thanks to the terrible sound on show.

There is no doubt that Terrordome can handle their instruments and the pro-environmental message that pervades Straight Outta Smogtown is all good. In principle. The problems on this record are twofold. First, the lyrics range from overly simplistic and repetitive (“Into the Void”) to downright bizarre at times and while this may be one of those instances where writing in their non-native English has hampered the band, it does grate. Secondly, and more importantly, the way Terrordome have structured this album robs it of much impact, as it lacks flow, lurching from one song to the next. There’s some good material here but it’s interspersed with a lot of lower quality cuts and slammed together seemingly at random.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Selfmadegod Records
Websites: terrordome.bandcamp.com | terrordome.net | facebook.com/terrordomeband
Release Date: February 5th, 2021

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