Terminalist – The Great Acceleration Review

Self-described genre tags are always a mixed bag. On the one hand, many bands don’t conform to the pre-existing parameters of whatever style or sub-style, but on the other hand, the reason those styles and sub-styles have come to mean what they do is simple convenience. For example, it’s a lot easier for me to tell you that Terminalist is fundamentally a progressive technical death / thrash band than it is for me to tell you that they’re a self-monikered “hyperthrash” band and then immediately tell you that apparently that means that they’re fundamentally a progressive technical death / thrash band.

Release date: May 7, 2021. Label: Indisciplinarian.
Of course, regardless of whichever stylistic descriptors you or I or they may choose to apply, the songs remain the same, and these particular songs are made of tightly-wound thrash riffs balanced against an occasional outlier, be it the folk-ish bass melody beneath the dissonant chords of “Invention Of The Shipwreck” or the goth-tinted drive of “Estranged Reflection.” All of that is topped off with Emil Hansen’s old-school death growl, pushing Terminalist’s “hyperthrash” to straddling that line between thrash and the earliest edges of death metal. It’s an old sound, presented in a modern manner — it harks to the days decades past, but it doesn’t sound entirely slavish to those pre-established norms, and when it does, it at least manages to capture them in such a manner that it feels both old and new enough to stand on its own.

Add to those old-and-new tracks the overarching concept of a dystopian science-fiction vision, one built upon the time-space compression philosophy of 20th-century French theorist Paul Virilio — a theory that he referred to as “dromology,” from the Greek word for “race” or “racetrack” — and you get The Great Acceleration. I won’t pretend that I know anything at all about dromology, or even that I’ve thought of it at all ever outside of the context of this review, but if nothing else, it’s a more unique concept than the 15,000th song about nuclear fallout or zombies or zombies created by nuclear fallout. The accelerated pace of modern society and technological innovation, and then all of the consequences of each, present an interesting update on thrash’s typical sociopolitical pessimism. (So thanks a lot, Terminalist —now I have this to worry about speed, too, all while I’m still worrying about irradiated zombies…)

At the end of the day, you’ll notice that our slogan up there says we’re impressed by riffs, not by French philosophers or genre tags, and no matter what else, “hyperthrash” certainly seems to be filled with plenty of actual riffs. Opening number “Relentless Alteration” alone sports a handful of killers, clanging arpeggios balanced against palm-muted heft, split by blast-beat-driven almost-blackened turns. Throughout The Great Acceleration, Hansen’s vocals could be a little more dynamic, a little less monochromatic — they aren’t bad, by any stretch, but that Karl Willets-esque growl is the weakest part of Terminalist’s musical equation, a little one-dimensional as Hansen’s and Morten Bruun’s guitars rip through chunky riffs, dissonant chords, and tremolo-picked melodies beneath. The rhythm section of Kalle Tiihonen and Fredrik Amris pushes the whole of The Great Acceleration with a palpable energy that befits the name, not a crackling speedfest but a relentless forward motion with power in its seeming inevitability.

So, yeah, I guess this is “hyperthrash,” if you want to call it that, or it’s progressive technical death / thrash. Most importantly than any of that, it’s pretty damned fun, even as it tells us one more way the world can end. Take a breather from the perpetual speeding-up of society, learn about dromology, and get your hyperthrashing on.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

  1. I agree with your label of “progressive technical death/thrash”. The term ‘hyperthrash’ probably should not exist. Anyway, good album! It reminds me a lot of the band Imperialist, in musical style, sci-fi theme, and even album cover.


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