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Terminatryx - Shadow
Written by Allyson Kenning   
Thursday, 14 August 2014

Terminatryx - CD Review
Shadow

 


Terminatryx - Shadow

 

CD Info
Flamedrop Productions
11 Tracks
English and some Afrikaans lyrics
9/10


South Africa, that exotic jewel at the bottom tip of the Dark Continent (at least from what I've read, it's an exotic jewel, despite the politics), doesn't stand out as a metal haven to me, though I am aware of a few bands hailing from that country.  Apparently there is a burgeoning metal scene there, however, and Terminatryx, who come from Cape Town, are part of it.  I don't exactly remember how I came across this band initially, but it was some months ago and it was upon hearing their cover of the song "Obsession", which was made into a huge hit in 1984 by the band Animotion, who had in turn covered it from the original 1983 track performed by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres. Terminatryx's cover of "Obsession" is seriously addictive; you can hear it for yourself here, in this video they made for it that came out in 2012. But the band's history goes back a bit father, to 2008, which saw the release of their debut album, a self-titled release I have not had the pleasure of hearing yet, though the follow-up, entitled Remyx, containing remixed versions of all the songs in Terminatryx and the "Obsession" cover, I have heard, but have to say didn't really stick with me much.

So fast forward to this year on June 13, a Friday.  That day, Terminatryx's new album, Shadow, was released, thanks in part to a crowd-funding campaign.  Also released that day was a video for the title track, "Shadow", which features a seance and is definitely on the creepy side (as is the "Obsession" video) and very suitable for Friday the 13th.  I loved the song and the video, and now here I am reviewing the album, which I think is a great effort by this four-member ensemble.

Self-styled as industrial-alternative metal, Terminatryx definitely has a unique sound.  I like industrial metal in general, though I must admit I don't listen to a lot of it, but what I do hear definitely sticks out, especially as I am used to the more Gothic, symphonic, and folk types of metal.  Terminatryx's sound blends electronic elements with heavy synths and muzzy sound distortion, and easy-going, almost sexy grooves.  Lead vocalist, Sonja, lends the songs a darker tone with dramatic delivery, and she is backed up often by growls layered over her vocal lines, performed by Paul Blom, who also is the bassist, keyboardist, and plays the guitar.  He is also responsible for the production, too.  Terminatryx's sound is also very atmospheric; they pull off moody and edgy very well with the aforementioned elements, and if you check out their videos, their image is dark and very much inspired by the Gothic, the vampiric, and the horror movie aesthetic.  And check out the album cover for Shadow; it makes a very strong statement indeed! They are definitely a complete, well-thought out package.

The introductory track, "Metropolis" is a chaotic instrumental piece filled with electronic effects and a siren sound sound that is daunting.  Quick tempo changes and atmospheric keys create a mood of slight panic and distress.  This is the type of piece you might here during an action scene in a very creepy movie.  From there, we move into "Holy", which demonstrated the main elements I mentioned above that contribute to Terminatryx's unique sound.  All of the hallmarks are there: the aggressive growling in the background, Sonja's ability to embody a song's feeling and atmosphere with her vocals, haunting electronic effects, and driving drums.

Lyrically, "dark" is an appropriate descriptor as well.  "Scars", track three, is a good example.  "Physical torture - mental abuse/Self-mutilation, war wounds you did not choose," one line states, and the chorus continues:

The scars on your skin
Are so much harder to hide than the ones within
The stars will begin
To align in your eyes just as all hope dies

Yeah, like I said, it's pretty dark stuff.  Many of the songs are in the same vein.

There is one Afrikaans song on the album, "Masjien", which translates into English as "machine".  There is a translation for it on the Terminatryx web site, where all the lyrics for Shadow can be found (and many thanks to the band for doing this!  I really appreciated it!).

Pace-wise, this album is quite varied.  There are some mid-tempo songs, like "Shadow" and "Nothing", which have that easy going groove I mentioned, and then there is some faster stuff like "Purifire" and "Holy."  There is a second instrumental piece, with a bit of vocalization by Sonja, called "Outcast", which has some very sharp-sounding violin sounds and, like it's counterpart, "Metropolis" is very atmospheric and almost panicky in tone. 

I liked this album a lot and it gets spun regularly here in my Suburban Lair.  My favourite songs are "Scars" and "Shadow"; they get played a lot.  I also really liked the single word song titles - they are short and to the point and I admire that.  I like the entire package Terminatryx creates for itself, from the alternative-ness of their sound with the distortion, dark atmosphere, and growly backing vocals, to how they present themselves in their videos, and to how they have marketed themselves with their promotional stuff (web site, album art, etc.).  You can tell they've put a lot of thought and effort into putting forth a certain image, and it works.

Terminatryx has been around since 2002, according to their Facebook page. They've even released a DVD that was Nosferatu-themed and contained the movie Nosferatu itself - complete with a new soundtrack written and performed by the band plus some collaborators. Their Facebook also says that they are "one of the most unique bands on the South African scene".  And who am I to argue that claim?  I know very little about the South African scene, but I can say for sure that Terminatryx is unique on the female fronted metal scene in general, and that this hard working band has incredible potential.

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