Terror Universal may be described as something of a supergroup, consisting of current and former members of Machine Head, Soulfly, Upon a Burning Body and Ill Nino. Far from resting of the laurels of their other bands however, the members don monstrous costumes in the style of Lordi or GWAR, and assume alternate identities as they deliver their horror-infused, modern Industrial Death Metal.
To refer to the band’s new release Make them Bleed as a new album as such is a kind of misnomer, as literally half the tracks on the album are re-recordings of tracks from the debut EP, Reign of Terror. These re-recordings are variable in their level of necessity, though are notable for including new vocalist Plague after the band’s split with Rott. These new recordings effectively make the EP redundant as anything but a collectors’ curio, with the exception of its cover of Rob Zombie’s ‘Superbeast,’ and perhaps that’s the point; however, it does limit the value that can be drawn from what is otherwise an excellent album.
Make them Bleed opens with a new track, ‘Passage of Pain,’ which is ominous, deep and heavy. It’s immediately apparent that Plague’s vocals are even more brutal than Rott’s, and Massacre’s drumming is stronger than ever. ‘Passage of Pain’ establishes a sound that may be compared to the modern Death / Thrash Metal of Lamb of God, with an underlying layer of synth / Industrial Metal. Plague’s cleaner vocals meanwhile owe a lot to the Nu Metal stylings of Korn or Disturbed. The atmosphere is also deeply vested in Diabolus’ bass work. As with most of the album, the sound is far from mainstream, though the song structure is quite accessible.
The first of the re-recordings is ‘Welcome to Hell,’ Terror Universal’s premiere track. Aside from the obvious change in vocalist, the production is a little cleaner and fuller, but there is otherwise very little difference between this recording and the original. As a lead track for the band, it is quite catchy, and focuses more on the Death Metal-influenced Thrash side more than the Industrial side.
‘Spines’ on the other hand, another new track, is much more on the Industrial side, and brings Rob Zombie to mind. Fans of Terror Universal may be surprised at how melodic this track is, with its beautifully smooth clean vocals. The track is quite anthemic, and could conceivably make one nostalgic for the early noughties heyday of Nu Metal.
The title track ‘Make them Bleed’ is faster and heavier, and as the title track tends to capture all the diverse elements of Terror Universal’s sound, even drawing on some Deathcore influence. The call to, “Spread the violence, fuck the world,” begs to be brought to a live setting.
One of the strongest tracks on the album, ‘Through the Mirrors’ is an excellent fusion of modern Death Metal and Nu Metal. The melodic chorus toes the line of not actually fitting in a Terror Universal song, pushing the boundary enough to rattle the listener’s comfort zone, but with enough precision to make it work. This track stands out from the rest as wonderfully inventive, but if it feels like any other band, could perhaps be compared to CKY. Tracks like this certainly make one question the necessity of re-recording five of six tracks from the previous EP.
However, the re-recording of ‘Dig you a Hole’ is a noticeable improvement, and Plague certainly gives a much more powerful vocal performance. Given this is the lead single and a well-known song for Terror Universal fans, it’s not a bad thing to have a stronger recording of this modern Industrial Metal classic. The quiet, horror movie-esque intro builds anticipation in those who know it, and the production on this re-recording is heavy and stirring. This is one of two occasions where the re-recording was definitely needed,
The last of the new tracks, ‘Dead on Arrival,’ has quite a Resident Evil feel in terms of both the soundtrack album and the music Marilyn Manson composed specifically for the film, embracing the horror / Nu Metal fusion. This is another track that proves how far Terror Universal have come since Reign of Terror, and should absolutely come into its own live.
‘Into Darkness’ is the other re-recording that was definitely worth doing. The track builds atmosphere beautifully with its synth-based intro leading into heavy, tense guitars. Plague delivers a surprisingly emotive rendition of the chorus, demonstrating how Terror Universal have bolstered their emotional palette and pathos. This recording of ‘Into Darkness’ stands up very well next to the newer material. Thrax’s guitar solo is beautiful without being overly complex, and is perfect for its space and purpose.
‘Your Time has Come’ is a fast and aggressive, very Deathcore track that probably wasn’t necessary to re-record; it doesn’t bring as much to the album, nor does it offer particularly much in terms of growth from the EP, though the chorus does sound stronger.
The album closes with the fast-paced climax ‘Piece by Piece,’ another re-recording that was probably unnecessary, particularly as it’s quite a similar song to ‘Dig you a Hole,’ with perhaps a slightly stronger focus on the melodic elements in the chorus. Again, this re-recording doesn’t really add much to the original.
Overall, the new material of Make them Bleed demonstrates a period of intense growth for Terror Universal, and they will no doubt carve a space for themselves in the band’s own right. It’s a pity there wasn’t more original material on this album, as that is mainly where the band shines; but it does speak well of whatever may come next.
TERROR UNIVERSAL’S MAKE THEM BLEED IS AVAILABLE FROM THEIR BANDCAMP HERE!