Review by Greg Maki
A new masked metal band has stormed onto the scene, and with an undeniably nu-metal-influenced sound, it’s tempting to dismiss Terror Universal just a few bars into “Passage of Pain,” the opener of “Make Them Bleed,” its full-length debut (following the 2015 EP “Reign of Terror”). It’s understandable if you think to yourself, “Haven’t Slipknot and Mushroomhead being doing this for going on two decades?” But with a lineup featuring current and former members of Ill Niño, Machine Head, Soulfly and Upon a Burning Body, you’ll notice immediately how tight and focused the playing is, with ferocious riffs and propulsive drumming by Dave Chavarri (Ill Niño), known here as “Massacre.” Tasteful use of atmospheric electronic sounds further takes the listener back to the early 2000s.
While comparisons to their masked brethren are inevitable, the sound here hews closer to Five Finger Death Punch, with the aggro-to-clean vocal stylings of “Plague” (to my knowledge, he hasn’t been identified or outed himself yet) falling somewhere between Ivan Moody and Jonathan Davis. His performance is one of the album’s highlights and not nearly as derivative as that comparison might imply.
A certain subset of metal fans likely will shun Terror Universal based on descriptions such as this alone. Keep an open mind, and you’ll hear some incredibly catchy songs—heavy and aggressive enough to stir up the mosh pits yet with an ear toward radio that could lead to said pits breaking out at major rock festivals around the world. Though the music falls a little on the safe side—the horror movie masks are the scariest thing about Terror Universal—“Make Them Bleed” is a solid, punchy record from top to bottom.
(minus HEAD Records, January 19, 2018)