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Terminate – Ascending to Red Heavens

by Brett Stevens
April 16, 2013 –

terminate-ascending_to_red_heavensAny band making music of a vaguely “Swedish style” is going to attract both absurdly high hopes and cynicism, and Terminate fulfills some expectations from each column.

Mixed emotions about Swedish-style death metal appear mainly because the recent “revival” of Swedish death metal is more like an “imitation” of the past using the bad techniques of the now. A lot of bands picked up Boss HM-2 pedals, dimed their amps and switched to flying Vs, then mixed a few classic Carnage, Nihilist and At the Gates riffs into their bog-standard death metal with the design philosophy of a cardboard box.

Terminate may or may not fall into this category, but their rendition of Swedish death metal is more like what happens now than what happened then. Its verse-chorus approach is sparse with riffs and heavy on repetition, and its songwriting is blocky, in that these riffs don’t particularly appear to relate to each other and the need to drop in a note-shifted favorite from Left Hand Path or Like an Ever-Flowing Stream cramps their songwriting. The other struggle this band faces is that their choice of notes, chords and rhythms is what we might call “obvious,” meaning that these will always be common variations of the most basic approach to writing this style of music, and they’re not particularly evocative ones.

As any reader with an IQ over his or her shoe size can guess, the overall style here is “Swedish death metal,” which is now as much TM as the Nordish foods at the front of Ikea. Terminate use the crunchy riffs that gradually create a melodic mood, although here it’s more like a side-step from crunch to melody, and build an architectural sense of the sonic space in which death metal moves. Vocals are equally gruff and guttural, sounding a lot like Carnage or Utumno on a bad day.

Ascending to Red Heavens distinguishes itself because it is not cynical toward its subject matter. The band dives right in and goes for the death metal thrills of thunderous riffs and dark passages culminating in near-nuclear levels of antagonism. Whether this rises above the average is an exercise for the reader, but at least this band, like other Swede-worshippers Disma and Decrepitaph, enjoys its subject matter and tries to be faithful to the idea of it as a whole.

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7 comments

  • bitterman

    Sounds about right, average stuff. Doom atmosphere inducing solo ala Dismember was cool. Even then, average bands from back then like God Macabre and Hetsheads, for example, who went for the “brutal” approach had a lot of well developed riffs and structures for the most part, all while being very headbang worthy metal.

    Reply
  • Steve Brettens

    Wow, does anyone remember Mega Slaughter – Calls from the Beyond 1991? Sororicide – The Entity 1991? Or even Vomitory – Raped in Their Own Blood from 1996?? I still listen to these bands and they sound as fresh as in the 90s ——- Swedish style death metal that makes this band look so irrelevant. The only thing Terminate have going for them is that they released an album in 2013.

    Reply
    1. bitterman

      I remember them. Have to say though, never thought Vomitory was that good, but Sororicide was a decent Autopsy/Immolation hybrid. Megaslaughter was pretty cool, but like Nirvana 2002, Convulse, God Macabre, and others, didn’t measure up to Dismember, who at the time were regarded as gods among my group. Still, to this day, I can see why Dismember is highly ranked. Like an Everflowing Stream is the Swedish Death Metal bible. Entombed/Nihilist may have invented the style, but Dismember made THE album. Have to say though, I can listen to a lot of demos of old shit I never heard from Sweden till recently and find a lot of cool stuff around every corner in the music, no matter if it’s a ripoff or not. Like Daniel Ekeroth said in his book, Death Metal is not easy to compose. Play? Mostly yes, but it’s about those cool structures that make everything make sense. The influx of new bands kept lowering the quality until it was all crust punk with LG Petrov vocals and HM-2 Distortion “Sunlight Studios” sound. The new bands (I can’t remember them all or really want to) just don’t get death metal. Now, there’s a new influx of swedeath coming by way of awareness from At the Gates Slaughter of the Soul, Mike Amott’s Carnage association, or even a metalcore band like Converge doing an Entombed cover or Killswitch Engage and Opeth members wearing Entombed shirts. Terminate understands the techniques I guess, but really, this song could easily be so mid-90s Obituary, Madball, or some Roadrunner metal if you cut out the obvious David Blomqvist inspired lead and trem picking. The reviewer doesn’t seem to like nostalgia in metal, but compare this band to a demo level band from back then, it’s night and day. It’s the same music stripped of all effort. Hell, I think some of Wolverine Blues has more depth than this, and that’s real sad. Grrr…. nu-metal and new metal…. dammit!!!

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    2. Metal Command

      Even those bands are total second-stringers, even if they’re “true.” Please don’t let this place become FMP 666 (now NWNprod) where the collectors like anything if few enough people own it. They’re the opposite of the pop zombies, who like anything if enough people own it.

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