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TERMINAL ZERO: Brace For The End

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Label: Independent
Out Now

Words by Greg Walker

Adelaide has always been a fertile hotbed for Aussie metal talent. In:Extremis, I Killed The Prom Queen, Truth Corroded, and more recently Freedom Of Fear, Alt., and S.I.D have sprung from the hallowed grounds surrounding the City Of Churches. Straddling big arena rock and groove-driven metal, Terminal Zero are oft described as alt/rock, however they court a number of genres. Too heavy to be pigeonholed as hard rock, not entirely heavy enough to be considered amongst traditional metal groupings, but despite all that the result does not sound like a mish-mash: new album Brace For The End flourishes as naturally and organically modern.

Having established their scene foothold on their solid debut album Cold War and declaring their intentions with 2019’s follow-up Control, Brace For The End is absolutely a mission statement. Honing the growing pains through previous album cycles, Terminal Zero have just released a collection of anthemic tunes that sway from groovy punch to contagious sing-alongs aligned with invitations to damage vertebrae in time with big headbang moments.

Forever begins proceedings, a cracker of an opener with no long build-up intro, just straight into the expansive grandeur. Darker and harder than previous outings, Brace For The End immediately displays enormous depth in production, perfect for the songs’ delivery. Forever is massively catchy, with a distinct atmosphere that spotlights the melodic tilt of the chorus.

Brace has a new lyric video out and features a guest appearance by the album’s producer dw Norton, laying down a flowy dulcet chorus vocal. Ingredients swirl: the main drive, the ambient background atmospherics, and samples galore. Swinging between monster groove bounce to infectious melodic chorus, Brace is an excellent introduction to Terminal Zero’s capabilities and scope of their work on Brace For The End.

Turn The World Around opens with a showcase of Matt Searle‘s distinctive husky throat, a dynamic that sets the band apart from contemporaries in the scene who lean heavily on harsh barks, Searle’s debut studio venture with the band is a refreshing throwback to actual talent. Turn The World Around proves to be an epic, next-level fist-pumping anthem, one of many on the album.

Sirens has heart. The perfect choice for lead single, melodies tailored to sweeping rock moments create hefty occasions complete with plenty of woah-ohs that just beg for crowd participation. Elsewhere, Clarity is an earworm that calls out for immediate replay. Searle’s adaptive vocals morph effortlessly from husky croon to a Bruce Dickinson-esque soar to a stratospheric chorus. Despite the high-level proficiency of the songwriting and band performance throughout, I’m enthralled most by the versatility in the vocals on Brace For The End, this aspect above all will demand repeat listens.

Debut single Scars And Stripes shapes to be a huge point in their live show, as close as they’ve come to the Linkin Park comparison I’ve occasionally seen associated with Terminal Zero; I hear it, but I’m not entirely convinced, their unique style has an enormously rich euphonious sound. dw Norton again lends his backing vocals as well as shining on the bridge and outro. His second outing at the helm in the studio with Terminal Zero, Norton’s trademark spacious, all-encompassing production could be the jewel in this album’s crown if it weren’t for the strength of the architecture of the material on show. Either way, the communion is ours to thoroughly enjoy.

Brace For The End is not a delicate balance between commercial poise and hefty punch, it fully embraces and manipulates the mainstream aspect of Terminal Zero’s sound to their absolute advantage to create something beautifully special in the current scene. Their previous work notwithstanding, on the strength of this album alone, I’d be first in line to catch their highly spoken of live shows should they be Brisbane-bound any time soon.

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