Terminal Nation – “Echoes Of The Devil’s Den” – Everything Is Noise

I’m writing this review, or at least starting it, on Friday, April 26, the end of a week where I’ve seen hundreds of peaceful protesters, demonstrators, and civil disobeyers be attacked and arrested on college campuses across the US, culminating in today which saw mass arrests by scumbag cops in Denver on a university campus where I work. Protestors were knocked down, cuffed, shoved in the back of vans, some eerily separated from others into their own van. All because they spoke out about an ongoing and escalating genocide perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians, an overwhelming amount of them kids, directly supported by the US and its many ghoulish interests. This is not a great time. So what I’m trying to say is, Terminal Nation are needed now more than ever.

I think if nothing else, Terminal Nation have become absolutely synonymous with American rot since their inception. Me finding them with their debut album Holocene Extinction was a core memory in the making – it was refreshing for a band like them to be so utterly direct and devastatingly heavy with the real fundamentals of Western civilization in their crosshairs. Not freedom and liberty; more like fascism, oppression, corruption, capitalism, conquest, and racism. Since then I’ve looked forward to each and every thing they do, from their wondrous split with Kruelty to their cool exclusive Flexi project with Decibel. They are without a doubt one of my favorite bands going now.

The band’s fight to get to this point wasn’t easy. Aside from the Sisyphean climb to garner success in the metal landscape while the mummified hands of capitalism try to pull you under, bassist Chase Turner had his own battle to fight after getting in a serious car wreck in October 2022 incapacitating him from work and much more. Singer Stan Liszewski had his house bisected by a tree after a tornado ravaged Arkansas last year which displaced his family and started a fuckshit bureaucratic war with an insurance company to make things right. You can read more about that over at Kim Kelly‘s interview with Liszewski on Salvo.

It’s with all this in mind that makes the unmitigated fire and fury of Echoes Of The Devil’s Den hit even harder. It sounds like rage after pulling yourself up out of the shitslog of life, warring with life’s promised setbacks and detours only to remain standing on top like a double middle finger to fate, destiny, or whatever you wanna call it. It’s like the band just took up arms like berserking barbarians and charged down a hill to embed their weapons into the squishy proxies of failure they seek to overcome. The resulting music is robust, anthemic, and ultra pissed off.

It’s a community effort as well – Echoes Of The Devil’s Den has, for the first time I believe, features from many people around the heavy music landscape which is great because there’s power in numbers after all. I was genuinely surprised at some of the guests on here. Todd Jones of Nails makes sense – he’s on the lead single “Written By The Victor” which is a pummel-and-a-half groove tank of nice riffs and momentum akin to some early Gatecreeper shit about the nature of recorded history with its bloody ink written by deceivers and killers. One feature that caught me by surprise was Killswitch Engage‘s Jesse Leach on “Merchants Of Bloodshed”. The song makes no real melodic concessions until the end with Leach cleanly singing over ominous synths at the end some of the realest lyrics about war profiteering: ‘They sit in board rooms/Forecasting their accounts/On how they can monetize/Their victim’s helpless cries‘.

Of course, Liszewski can’t be beaten on his own turf. The dude is righteously violent with his delivery and words on Echoes Of The Devil’s Den. For me, Terminal Nation‘s messaging has always been the most important aspect of their music and it’s harder than diamonds this time around. “The Spikes Under The Bridge” is a particularly salient song right now as cities – yes, even liberal/progressive ones – across the nation build and maintain hostile architecture to make it nearly impossible for their homeless populations to exist. Fuck, even the MTA in New York City took out benches from some stations for a time because they didn’t like the homeless sleeping on them so much, they inconvenienced disabled, pregnant, and any other people possible. This song features Zak Vargas of Elysia who were, apparently, a legendary band from deathcore’s earlier years with a nice punk, sociopolitical edge. Both vocalists complement each other well here.

Without a doubt my favorite song is “No Reform (New Age Slave Patrol)”, a ripping condemnation of police brutality and killings. While not quite as incendiary as Body Count‘s unfuckwithable “Cop Killer”, this is up there with it in terms of vitriol and speaking truth to power. The drums don’t quit – I love the double bass stomps that accent each bar of lyrics that froth from Liszewski’s mouth. Some of these words are protest sign worthy:

Trained to shoot first
And ask questions later
That can’t be answered
By a child’s corpse

Dorner was right
You’re the enablers
Guilty of misconduct
New Age Slave Patrol

I also appreciate the more personal touches the album has, no doubt brought on by the events described above and more. There’s a bit more abstraction and introspection on here like with the title track or “Dying Alive” (probably the home of my favorite riff on the album, near the end of the track) which are both about contending with adversity and still finding the strength to not only push through, but shred your throat with a battle cry to let others know you’re not to be fucked with. That’s also captured very, very well on “Cemetery Of Imposters” which is about keyboard warriors and shit-talkers who have clearly never had their face slapped hard enough to make them taste time and space for a minute. K. Kennedy from Sex Prisoner mingles well with Liszewski as they trade bars on here and makes for my favorite feature on the album by giving it more of a hardcore tone than other tracks. It’s just maliciously tough.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Terminal Nation were at least a death-doom band with their first LP, but here the doom mostly laces the lyrics. Echoes Of The Devil’s Den is more agile even if there’s still some lurch and creep to how they present themselves, like a more guttural Bolt Thrower set to 0.8x speed, an even more apt comparison with “Embers Of Humanity” in mind which feels fantastical and epic (and hey, what about that album cover?). And this is all after being a fairly straightforward hardcore set with their first couple projects. Already, the quintet have set an example on how to maneuver through, between, and over various sonic profiles and approaches to never let them know your next move. All you know is when they show up, shit’s getting fucking obliterated.

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