Living on the edge!

TERRADOWN – Judgement (CD review) ★★★★☆

Almost Exactly 1 year after TerraDown winning the Metal Battle in Estrado Harderwijk I receive the review copy of their debut album “Judgement”. This album is not only a concept album, but the band is a concept by itself too. Although that is quite a challenge, but it is also a narrow path to walk on too.
However in these strange times of lock downs and all, the story is rather applicable.

Judgement starts of with “Statement” and it is a grim story of an abandoned warrior left to die. Musically it is a bit bombastic, but very well detailed; the music as well as the lyrics. This song has a precise amount of chaos, which gives a bit of an uncomfortable feeling to it, which gets under your skin; something is going on. I like it when a story sets all the props in their place like this right from the beginning.
There are a few change in tempo which breaks up this quite long song of over seven and a half minutes nicely. Especially the inner reflection part is impressive, with a nice build up towards the end of the song. The semi-fade out is a bit of a let down.

“Volition” has a more powerful start is almost right from the start very grooving, with very interesting changes in tempo and very melodic pumping drums. The changes in this song are more subtle but very much in line with the lyrics
At first the next song, called “Break your Chains”, raised a brow. The song doesn’t start of with the characteristic growling voice of Nick, but with rather (but not complete) clean vocals and… a rap-metal tune.
Surely it crosses over from rap-metal to grooving death metal, but I must admit that the first few times I listened to “Break your Chains” I couldn’t figure it out exactly. Later, as it grew on me, I kinda liked it.

The fourth song of the album is the first song of this album I heard some weeks ago; “Memories” and although it was played in Estrado last year, I didn’t remember it was this awesome. The intro is one of a ballad, but that is all gone after exactly 17 seconds. The double tapping by Jasper and Mark is beautiful and fits well in this emotional song. The lyrics are of an impressive high level and from the break it builds up to another double tapping and that leads towards the end of this song. Every time I hear it I crank the volume up a bit more.

Luckily is “Caged in Stone” a tiny bit lower in intensity and goes back to the grooving metal, with some epic metal influences and sung partly with clean-ish vocals. This song is another mix of genres which makes this album up until now rather interesting.
“Black Blood” is the sixth track on the album and takes off, where “Caged in Stone” ended. The style is comparable, but where “Caged in Stone” is perhaps a bit more bright, “Black Blood” is definitely more dark. There is no doubt this song is about de the dependency of mankind of oil; black blood.
The build up of this song is nice. The first half is quite cheerful and groovy, despite the grim message. The break feels like the end of the song, but then there is a powerful build up to the groovy part before the song really ends.

I struggle a bit with the next track. “Overlord” doesn’t grip me like other songs on this album yet. It doesn’t mean it is a bad song, but maybe it is a bit to straightforward. I guess I miss the suspense a bit, which is more present in the other songs.

“Reburied” is following and that is quite a different song. Lots of tempo changes and fills and frills, pushed forward by a pumping drummer.
Lyrically this is a fascinating song. There are so many ways to explain or interpret the lyrics, that it is mind boggling; impressive!

“From the skies” is the song I’ve listened to the most. There is so much going on in this song, that even after 20 times per day it still isn’t boring. Perhaps is this the song which defines TerraDown the most; complex, varied and skilled.

In a perfect world, a dark philosophical story like that of “Judgement”, would have a positive ending, but that is by no means a certainty in this case with “Into the Devil’s Liar” being the last song of the album.
While reading the lyrics, you cannot escape the impression that this song is like a boss fight from a video game. In line with the theme of the band, the outcome of this story is uncertain.
“Into the Devil’s Liar” is another song with a great build up and intensity.

TerraDown proofs that even if not all members have the same taste in metal to make an interesting album. Personally I think the different views on metal are the forte of this band.
Although the concept of the band and album is challenging, the album is musically and lyrically varied and coherent and a more than decent debut album.

What I really like about the lyrics is, that the really tell a story. The songs are quite lengthy, 5 minutes on average, and all of that can be a pitfall too. A concept album is a tricky thing to make, especially a concept album with a message is often a balancing act between the story, the message you want to bring across, the music and the length of a song, while grasping the attention of your listeners and not being pedantic!
TerraDown did all this rather succesfully, with just a few minor remarks.
Even if you ignore the message, or even the story at all, it is still a great debut album!

To me a (semi) fade out on a metal album is heinous and sadly there are a few. Half of the songs have squealing guitars dying out by them self, but cut short by a fade out and that is a pity. There are better ways to end a song.
Other than that, this album is very impressive and has a spot in my playlist.

Score: 8.0/10 ★★★★☆

01. Statement
02. Volition
03. Break Your Chains
04. Memories
05. Caged in Stone
06. Black Blood
07. Overlord
08. Reburied
09. From the Skies
10. Into the Devil’s Lair



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