Review Summary: Terror Plots is a visible culmination of the hard work and determination This Time It’s War have put forth over the past years and an undeniable self-triumph in artistic integrity, and what a triumph it is.
Progression is sometimes a difficult road to follow. When hardships come far more abundant than praise or smooth sailing, the road gets much tougher and taking the easy way out seems a much better choice. Based in Richmond, Virginia, This Time It’s War is no stranger to hardship. Constant line-up changes have plagued the band since their birth in 2004, and after several EPs and finally cementing a solid line-up in 2008 TTIW was able to score a co-headlining tour with a pre-Sumerian era Periphery. Work began on their first full-length and a record contract was signed in 2009. However, hardships once again showed their ugly beady eyes. Scheduling conflicts with the studio they were recording with pushed back their record release time and time again and tracks were left unfinished for ages. Once the record was finally finished, the record company decided the final product was not marketable enough giving This Time It’s War two choices. One to change and add music according to what was selling in today’s market and stay signed to a very popular label, or stick to their guns and stay true to themselves as artists. They decided to take the road less traveled and self-release the album that was originally slated for a Summer 2009 release.
is a visible culmination of the hard work and determination This Time It’s War have put forth over the past years and an undeniable self-triumph in artistic integrity, and what a triumph it is. The music found on Terror Plots
ranges from progressive metal (with a strong emphasis on progressive) to melodic death metal influenced metalcore (with a very slight emphasis on core). Also showcased is a very noteworthy technicality in strange-time signature usage as well as some polyrhythmic riffing and drumming. The songs themselves are extremely varied and won’t have the listener thinking they’ve heard the same thing twice at any given moment. Breakdowns can be found on this album, but one would be hard pressed to find simply open note chugging anywhere on the album for more than a few seconds. Every separate instrument does its job very well and shines quite brightly.
The first thing that jumps out at the listener as opening track “Manic Dependence” assaults them is a tapping solo courtesy of guitarist Justin Lawson. The song takes no time in jumping right into some excellent melodic death metal influenced riffing and some gorgeous chords. The lead spotlight is split fairly evenly between Lawson and the other guitarist Alan Simpson and leads range from extremely tasteful and fairly simple (as heard near the end the extremely melodic but Meshuggah-esque“11:34”) to blistering in speeds (as heard at the end of the most melodic death metal sounding track “Into The Abyss”). The bass is quite low in the mix but still very easily heard and never ceases to maintain a solid backbone to Terror Plots
as well as add some quite groovy bass fills. But what makes bassist Jeff Jennings quite remarkable is not his ability to provide an extra umph, but rather what he does while playing bass. While playing the bass lines to each song, Jennings also is simultaneously able to add an extra layer of atmosphere with a synth keyboard made just for his feet. The fairly simplistic yet really appropriate synth is a welcome addition to the songs on Terror Plots
and gives many melodic and spacey parts more of a full sound such as in highlight track “Unslaved”.
The vocals on Terror Plots
also have quite a variety to them, as listeners will notice from the get go in opening track “Manic Dependence.” Vocalist Scott Quigley’s main delivery changes mostly between a Darkest Hour mid-to-high range rasp to a very interesting sounding Akerfeldt influenced low growl. However other vocals are also showcased such as some more metalcore sounding half-spoken rasps and shrieky mdm-esque highs as well as some extremely well executed crooning cleans that add some quite well concocted melodies into the mix of some of the prettier parts. All of these different vocal styles (none of which are hard on the ears) are heard on opening track “Manic Dependence” and do not get old as they are interchanged quite often throughout the album. The drums are also quite noteworthy throughout Terror Plots
as drummer John Gammon flaunts his chops more than once. His fills are very tasteful and thought out (such as the opening fill in “11:34”) and Gammon is also a capable groover adding some very interesting polyrhythmic ideas and some very proggy odd-time drum grooves into the mix.
Overall, Terror Plots
is a really well executed debut full length from a band that has some major chops. It’s only a matter of time before This Time It’s War is touring this release extensively and getting noticed by more understanding, less trendy labels. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves next as they mature as a unit and continue putting out crushing metal.