Terminus – A Single Point Of Light Review

This review is late. There are, of course, a number of flimsy excuses that lead to this particular flunk, but none of them really matter. What matters is that the review going forward, despite the fact that the current review culture, along with people’s listening habits in general, have been throttling in churn & burn mode for long enough that a record that’s only two weeks old might already be considered “in the rearview mirror.” This is what happens when technology allows everyone with an internet connection a seemingly endless cavalcade of releases to cram into their earholes on a weekly basis.

So, what makes a record like A Single Point of Light special enough to award it the “You’re Not Allowed to Fall through the Cracks” distinction? Simply put, it’s a fun and vigorously intense kick to the chops, top to bottom. Whether or not that leathering is suited to your taste obviously depends on a number of factors, but let’s begin with a simple and direct question:

How do you feel about bullshit?

Humans are innately opposed to bullshit, particularly in excess, and most of us are already forced to deal with enough of it at the behest of all the traffic, bosses, laws, adult obligations, and maybe even the unique dilemma of dealing with it in a literal sense from some lazy bull that refuses to clean up its own actual bullshit. Conclusion: bullshit is probably the biggest load of bullshit there is, but it’s part of life.

Release date: November 8, 2019. Label: Cruz del Sur.
This is a felicitous detail because, as many of you are probably aware, metal in the year of our Lord 2019 happens to feature a fair bit of bullshit hanging off the eaves. Bullshit of every sort, including a relatively innocuous variety that pushes the genre’s boundaries to a point of avant-gardism that almost makes you wonder if you’re actually still listening to metal and didn’t just haphazardly leave a snowblower idling beside a frog terrarium in the living room. To be clear, I’m not here to point fingers at your favorite new band shoveling the latest trend of snapchat-filtered blackened doomslam grindgaze—deep experimentation is great, and it’s vital for keeping this beast fresh and moving forward. But buddy, honest-as-hell heavy metal sans bs frippery is also fiercely welcome, and that’s precisely what the duo behind Northern Ireland’s Terminus are here to deliver.

Good ol’ classic / vintage / hoary / traditional / mom and-or dad / old-school heavy metal that recalls a time when bands like Jag Panzer, Griffin (US), Warlord, Cirith Ungol and Cloven Hoof razed underground clubs by belting out battle hymns to denim warriors whose hair was only out-puffed by their hightop sneakers: that’s what’s on tap here today. In the modern age, these guys would fit snuggly on a bill alongside similarly-minded wallopers such as Argus, Solstice, Eternal Champion and Visigoth, with one of the principal differences being the (perhaps wise) choice by Terminus to look toward science fiction for lyrical themes. The songs still sound intensely battle-ready, but as offered by one of the two doomier cuts on the record, the excellent “Harvest,” the fight has been taken to forest domes drifting in the blackness of space.

As indicated by the above sample, a significant amount of strength and ruggedness shores up the riffing and overall mix here, which serves to make A Single Point of Light stand out amidst peers in a similar way that Sabbat’s Dreamweaver did twenty years ago. That stoutness becomes particularly deadly on the record’s speedier numbers, such as the excellent opener “To Ash, to Dust,” “Flesh Falls from Steel” and “Cry Havoc,” and it gives the doomier measures an unmistakable White Horse Hill feel, which becomes all the more understandable upon discovering that Solstice guitarist Richard Whittaker is responsible for this record’s mixing and mastering.

Vocalist James Beattie is another highlight. The easiest parallel to his sturdy delivery is Visigoth’s Jake Rogers, as both singers utilize a method that might be considered “serendipitously theatrical”—reminiscent of those moments in a random Sword & Sorcery film where the day’s warfare ends and the silence around the campfire is suddenly split by a heart-rendering a cappella rendition of “All the Heroes are Gone” via some defender still wearing half-plate. Beattie’s delivery is perhaps a shade more gritty and raw compared to Rogers’, but it’s equally as brawny and conveys the songs’ notably keen lyrics with just the right amount of grace, particularly when punctuated by the more melodic face of David Gillespie’s guitar work.

Bottom line: if you’re a fan of epic and galloping traditional metal that thumps as hard as it sweeps, A Single Point of Light is worthy of your attention. Additionally, this record is proof that true virtue can develop from nearly any amount of adversity; Terminus was forced to trim back from a five-piece to a duo back in 2017, and David Gillespie—who previously provided only drums—took over all instruments and songwriting duties for record number two. All the grit and determination required of both Gillespie and Beattie to soldier forward is woven throughout A Single Point of Light, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another record in 2019 better suited as a battle-ready companion for everyday struggles.

100% heartfelt heavy metal with precisely zero BS.

Posted by Captain

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; Handsome & Interesting Man; Just get evil all the time.

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