With a short demo under their belt to this point, American black/thrash band Living Terror has returned one year later with their debut EP, “Total Warfare”. The demo was just a taste of what was to come, as both tracks are also included on this release, and the band’s vision is still to crush everything in their path by unleashing savage vocals, old-school thrash riffs, and plenty of headbanging moments. Old-school is the key word in that description because, despite being a newer band, Living Terror sounds more at home with the bands of the 1980s than they do with more modern thrash bands. This is accomplished by utilizing more simplistic riffing, having a restrained production, and by avoiding the tendency to inject an overdose of blast beats or other extreme metal tropes into their music.
The one area where Living Terror does take a more modern approach is in their vocals. As noted above, they are truly vicious. Many of the bands who achieved a similar level of brutality in the ‘80s were hidden behind extremely thin production and felt more natural (“Endless Pain”-era Kreator, and most of the Brazilian bands come to mind). In this case, however, Living Terror’s vocalist sounds better than these older counterparts because he uses proper technique in his rasp. The result is a precise, yet ruthless performance.
Of the six full songs presented on this release, the band was correct to highlight “Lust For Blood” and “Warfare” on their demo because these two tracks remain the most effective. That isn’t to downplay the other songs; they just are a little less memorable. All six efforts will do an equally acceptable job of splitting your skull with their high velocity and relentless rhythmic attack. If I were to pick one additional highlight, it would be “Lord Of The Reaper”, which features an insanely heavy breakdown riff, as well as a fairly catchy chorus. The thrash break on this track shows that Living Terror can still be effective when playing at more moderate tempos, but they also don’t spend too much time at this slower pace before hitting warp speed again.
On the whole, “Total Warfare” is a major success. Relative to the band’s demo, this EP comes across as being more professional. The quality of the songwriting was never in doubt, but everything from the artwork to the performances to the production has been stepped up appropriately. Though Living Terror doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before, they have differentiated themselves from a lot of modern thrash bands simply because they don’t sound modern. If you are a serious thrasher, “Total Warfare” is an essential listen!
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"Lord of the Reaper"
"Lust For Blood"
4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott