Release date: July 12, 2017. Label: Nightbreaker Productions and Temple Of Mystery Records.
If you’re Ontario’s Droid, you’re probably pretty tired of the following two items: 1) people informing you about how much you sound like Voivod, and 2) people stating something along the lines of “Is this the Droid I’m/you’re/we’re looking for?”
Or maybe they’re not tired of it, how the hell should I know. I’ll tell you one thing, if some old coot in a dusty brown robe tried to convince me this wasn’t the Droid I was looking for, metaphysical capacity to sway people’s thoughts or not, I would most certainly tell him to mind his own bloody business. Terrestrial Mutations is impressive, engaging and absolutely fun, and anyone who tries to say otherwise is destined to have his or her body mysteriously disappear just as they’re struck down by an evil entity, thereby leaving a slew of open questions for nerdly nerdletons to ruminate over ad nauseum.
Oh, and it sounds like Voivod. The album, not the nerds ruminating over someone’s “death.”
This is a different brand of Voivod devotion, though. Not at all as violent as, say, Körgull the Exterminator, or as speed-obsessed and razored as Vektor, but rather an unmistakable ode to the age of Voivod that mellowed over time and produced the near-perfect and unique Nothingface when other bands were busy attempting to go harder, faster and extremerer.
There’s Coroner in these halls, too, and Obliveon, and any number of other intrepid thrashers of yore that shook the living hell out of the genre’s violent heritage to see what sort of sweetness might fall from the tree. In the case of Terrestrial Mutations, there’s a polished palatableness delivered via the playful manner in which the three players bounce off one another, and there’s a general breezy quality to much of the progginess, and, dare I say, even a bit of funk when that bass really gets moving. Thankfully, it’s not insufferable in the same way that Mordred managed with “Every Day’s a Holiday.” Just listen to how “Suspended Animation” bumps and struts down the boulevard before guitarist/vocalist Jacob Montgomery eventually splits the sky with a perfectly Piggly lead.
The rest of the fare is a little less transparent with the groove, save for the more aggressive (perhaps most aggressive) “Cosmic Debt” and throughout the enthusiastically exploratory space jam that is the album’s 10-minute closer, “Mission Drift,” but there’s always some sort of peppy experimentation going on throughout the album’s full hour. “Abandoned Celestial State” rips from the gate more like Coroner before suddenly cutting a 90-degree turn into a stretch of silky jazz, and the slick riff that hits around the 5-minute mark leads into a very satisfying closing that makes heavy use of harmonics and hook. “Pain of Reincarnation” is equally infectious, but it pulls the trigger with a more hard-rockin’ design, and the title track weaves another 10-minute stretch that’s often as relaxed as a hillside view of…well, generally pleasant things.
It’s still thrash, though, or at least very thrash-adjacent, so don’t expect a complete stroll in the park. Every song flashes healthy doses of speed and some degree of aggression, and Montgomery’s gruff bark, while admittedly one-dimensional, helps offset the abundance of sheen and blanketing elegance. The only true difficulty with Terrestrial Mutations, if there’s one thing notable enough to emphasize, is that a one hour run-time is rarely advisable. It’s not enough of a hinderance to keep this fine debut full-length from multiple returns, however.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something…spewed? Anyway, you’ll want to get hitched to what Droid’s spewing if you like the idea of dipping into a fresh take on the progressive variety of thrash that was prevalent in the late 80s/very early 90s. No, it’s not particularly ferocious or villainous, nor does it need to be. Simply put, Terrestrial Mutations is pleasant, but in a speedy way. Hammock thrash for the unwinding elite.