Terminus The Reapers Spiral Review Homework

It's sort of an impossibility for me to talk about The Reaper's Spiral without talking about Visigoth's The Revenant King. Both albums have made significant waves in metaldom in 2015, widely hailed as strong efforts that manage to lay down some really memorable riffs and vocal lines while pulling from a range of influences to create songs that are steeped in heavy metal tradition yet which sound really fresh. Further still, though, the two bands' actual approaches to heavy metal have a lot in common, there are key differences that set them apart and, to my ears, make each band truly unique and worthy of spin after spin.

First, the similarities. Both bands favor pounding, anthemic midpaced riffs with a lot of swagger and groove, using slowed-down doom tinged bits and high octane speedy passages as garnish to their muscular, rocking main approaches. They've got similarly big, heavy, burly guitars and their riffs both remind me a lot of bands like Sinister Realm in particular, with a good dose of Grand Magus. People also really liked to talk up the Manilla Road influence in Visigoth, perhaps partly due to the presence of the "Necropolis" cover right smack in the middle of their album, but I felt that track was really out of place as the songwriting approach clashed against Visigoth's original material and therefore stuck out like a sore thumb.

The Manilla Road influence is more evident in Terminus. Instead of the strapping bravado of Visigoth, James Beattie sounds like he's channeling Hellroadie doing his best Mark Shelton impersonation, if in delivery far more than actual tone. Beattie's got more control and sings in a lower register, but the way he paces the syllables of his delivery and warbles his notes gives me distinct Manilla Road vibes. I also get hints of Slough Feg and Borrowed Time, both very welcome influences indeed.

One of my (minor) complaints about The Revenant King is that it feels too much like a collection of songs rather than a cohesive work. Each song is an epic journey, with all sorts of twists and turns and unexpected yet perfect shifts into trudging doom or ripping speed metal to accentuate the narratives contained within each track, but the album as a whole lacked a unifying theme or vision. The Reaper's Spiral fares far better in that regard. The shorter tracks work together as individual movements within the greater piece, each standing on its own as a powerful chunk of heavy metal mastery yet also working to contribute to the album's flow and themes.

I also applaud the production. Visigoth were perhaps a bit too polished and modern sounding to me, but in comparison the recording here is a lot grittier, with a bit of scum on the guitars, a much warmer overall feel and some really nice live-sounding effects on the often double-tracked vocals. Every instrument is as clear as day, mixed to perfection, with only the presence of some clearly overdubbed guitar leads (not all of them - only here and there does the band utilize this technique) and vocal dubs betraying the fact that this was not recorded entirely live in the studio.

I imagine a lot of you are fairly well annoyed with my constant Visigoth comparisons throughout this review, especially since I've encountered some cynicism among folks who don't rate that album quite as highly as I do, but rest assured that despite all the similarities, there's still a great many things to set Terminus apart from their peers from across the pond. The shorter songs, more organic production, less bombastic but equally captivating vocal performance and unifying sci-fi theme and album structure give a unique flavor to The Reaper's Spiral, but the earworm riffs, really cool sci-fi/fantasy lyrics, soulful guitar leads and finely crafted songs (if you can't get down with a track like "Fortress Titan" then I think heavy metal may just not be for you at all, for example) are what really makes this great. Definitely one of the top heavy metal releases of 2015 and one that I can't envision leaving regular rotation in my listening habits for a long time to come.

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Nine tracks of Epic Heavy Metal from Belfast's finest, released June 2015 on CD (Stormspell Records, US) & MC (Horror Records, DK). Vinyl release coming September 2015 on Horror Records.
    For fans of Attacker, King Diamond, Twisted Tower Dire, Slough Feg, Warlord, Solstice and Iron Maiden.

    Purchasable with gift card

      £5

     

  • Black Vinyl Edition on Horror Records

    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Comes in heavy sleeve with cardboard insert and custom made silk screened PVC outer sleeve - subsequent pressings will not come with this PVC sleeve!
    Limited edition of 500 copies on black vinyl.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Reaper's Spiral via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • Blue Vinyl Edition on Horror Records

    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Comes in heavy sleeve with cardboard insert and custom made silk screened PVC outer sleeve - subsequent pressings will not come with this PVC sleeve!
    Limited edition of 200 copies on translucent blue vinyl.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Reaper's Spiral via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • Cassette edition on Horror Records

    Cassette + Digital Album

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Reaper's Spiral via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • "The Reapers Spiral" album design on Black or White T-Shirt

    T-Shirt/Apparel + Digital Album

    Design based on "The Reapers Spiral" album art printed on high quality Gildan Soft Style shirts. Design available on either Black or White shirt.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Reaper's Spiral via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • Constellation & Logo Vest Top

    T-Shirt/Apparel + Digital Album

    Original star constellation design by Richard M Walker with Terminus logo printed in silver on dark blue Gildan Soft Style athletic top.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Reaper's Spiral via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • CD edition on Stormspell Records

    Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    NOTE: US based customers may find cheaper shipping directly from Stormspell Records.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Reaper's Spiral via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

about

Drums recorded by Johnny Kerr at Dead Dog Studios
Guitars, Bass & Vocals recorded by Freeman Lowell aboard the Valley Forge
Mixed & Mastered by Paulo Vieira

Cover artwork by Paul McCarroll
Layout & Design by Rich Walker (Vinyl & Cassette Releases) & Mumintroll (CD version)


Thanks to our patient womenfolk and children, Iordan Kanev, Azter von Ghoul, Helmut Müller, Enrico Leccese, Paul McCarroll, Rich Walker, our brothers in arms Nuno Mordred, Rick Thor, Zé Rockhard and F, Ustumallagam, Lisa Ærenlund, Martin Jörgenson, Manolis Karazeris, Richard Whitaker, Danny Angus, Dónal McBrien, Our practice roommates (War Iron, Slomatics and Zlatanera), Michael Koch, Manuel Trummer, Luís Ruivo, Flav Monier, Helen Rae, James Ashbey, David and Christine at No Compromise festival, Oliver Weinsheimer, Jeff Black, Jason Tarpey and all people who still favour physical formats!

We Hail the following bands: Solstice, Ravensire, Argus, Denial of God, Evil Spirit, Atlantean Kodex, Wrathblade, Outcast, Deceptor, Eliminator, Dexter Ward, Herzel, Malthusian, Wild Rocket, Vircolac, Darkest Era, Gatekeeper and Eternal Champion.

credits

released July 1, 2015

James Beattie - Vocals
David McCallum - Bass
Gavin Coulter - Guitar
Paul Duffy - Guitar
David Gillespie - Drums

license

all rights reserved

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