Easy one to kick off the new year, what do all these acts have in common: GWAR, LORDI, SLIPKNOT, MUSHROOMHEAD, MOTOGRATER, GHOST, UNDERLINED, ASESINO, BERZERKER and Buckethead? The same thing as TERROR UNIVERSAL, a supergroup of masked marauders. Here the band is made up of alumni from ILL NINO and UPON A BURNING BED. What Gene Simmons, Michael Myers and lucha libre have collectively done for metal.
Only ILL NINO's Dave Chavarri has officially come out as a member, while Ahrue Luster was part an earlier version of the band but is no longer involved. Chavarri rolls here under the moniker "Massacre", and is joined by guitarist Thrax and vocalist Plague. What can also be confirmed with the release of TERROR UNIVERSAL's debut full-length, "Make Them Bleed", is that SOULFLY / FEAR FACTORY / STATIC-X bassist Tony Campos makes an appearance, as well as DISTURBED / ART OF ANARCHY's John Moyer.
If you pre-ordered "Make Them Bleed", you paid $6.66 (of course you did), but if you already own the 2015 "Reign of Terror" EP, then you already own half of "Make Them Bleed". Carrying over are "Welcome to Hell", "Dig You a Hole", "Into Darkness", "Your Time Has Come" and "Piece by Piece" plus five new tracks.
TERROR UNIVERSAL stylistically emulates SLIPKNOT and MUSHROOMHEAD in image and songwriting, adding spritzes of FEAR FACTORY's electro-industrial wheezes. "Passage of Pain" is only missing the surplus percussion (not to slag Dave Chavarri, a hell of a drummer in his own right) and hyper anxiety, but this, like "Welcome to Hell" thereafter (assuredly nothing in the key of VENOM), concentrates on building anthem-driven choruses on the trails of huffing agro passages. MUSHROOMHEAD's "Kill Tomorrow", "Sun Doesn't Rise" and "One More Day" are TERROR UNIVERSAL's songwriting blueprints, these tracks are nowhere near as effective, but they do pack their punches.
The tightness of the playing on "Spines", particularly the thrashing sections, gives the cut a brash swagger. Plague both snarls and croons over these, his ultimate objective being to coax an Armageddon-welcoming singalong. The title track is MUSHROOMHEAD 101 with a hammering tempo whisking the riffs into a power-packed "Fight Club" jam.
Consult the prior descriptions for the gist of how "Make Them Bleed" rolls the remainder of the way. "Through the Mirrors" is snot-heavy nasty. "Dig You a Hole" takes a hard run at mastering SLIPKNOT's brutal ear-pleasing hymns. "Dead on Arrival" forcibly whirls its verse riffs to shove Plague into a scurrying scat-rap. "Your Time Has Come" and "Piece by Piece" are the fastest TERROR UNIVERSAL plays, but the slowdowns are as predictable as the SLIPKNOT tendencies smothering them. All of these lead to inevitably yummy choruses, which is the main complaint to this album: its mud-stuck unavoidability.
That aside, "Make Them Bleed" will surely grab many pissed-off ears to fill the void left by the previous generation which has largely grown up and out of this sound.