Review Summary: Nik, Andy, and Chris are the names, and improvement is their game
Nik Nocturnal likes to model himself as a fun guy on YouTube who “does fun metal things”. Whether or not you find him entertaining, cringe, or a funny little blend of the two, there’s no denying that his image on the internet is one of a guy just having fun. This is even reflected in a lot of his original music endeavors, from the How to Metal
project which pretty much only works in a short format and not as full songs (as fellow Sputniker Halez can attest with their review of said project), to the weird experiments like Deathphonk and NIK NXK.
With all that said, it can be easy to forget that Nik actually has what could be considered a “serious” band: Termina, a technical metalcore/djent band starring Nik on guitars, Andy Cizek (of Monuments and Makari fame) on vocals, and, recently, Chris Turner on drums. Their first album, Dysphoria
was a serviceable, if not standard and stale, djent record that did little to stand out from the pack.
, the band’s sophomore album, fares a whole lot better.
From the opening drums that herald lead single and first track “Translucent”, two things become immediately become clear. Firstly, the addition of Chris Turner on drums has done wonders for Termina’s overall sound. MIDI drums are nice and all, but Turner’s technical drumming chops breathe a huge amount of life into each and every track on this album.
Similar compliments extend to Zakk Cervini, who served as this album’s producer. With a litany of rock and metal projects under his belt, he does a fantastic job of transforming what could’ve been a chaotic mess into something incredible.
To speak to that point though, this album’s biggest weakness is arguably one of its bigger selling points: its technicality and oftentimes chaotic compositions can be both a whirlwind and a source of overwhelming business. “Parasocial” and “Translucent”, among a couple other songs, can oftentimes be busy to a fault, with plenty of twists and turns, and so much going on in terms of instrumentals that you may want to listen to it a second time just to try and comprehend what the hell you heard.
But that’s also Soul Elegy
’s biggest strength. Its technicality and chaos gives it an air of originality and uniqueness that Dysphoria
sorely lacked. Whether it be the intricate riffs on “Take Flight”, the soaring chorus and almost Polyphia-like bridge for “Everything//Nothing”, or the presence of a goddamn saxophone
on “Under Your Knife”, there’s a lot more here that feels less derivative and more stand-out.
Vocally, this album is also a huge improvement. Andy Cizek’s cleans will still be very hit or miss, depending on the listener’s taste (I personally enjoy them), but it’s clear that his time in Monuments has led to some serious vocal improvement. His range on this album is nothing short of nuts, between far more stable cleans, standard metalcore screams (a la In Stasis
), and more than a few gutturals and highs, often switching between these styles on a dime. Again, it can be a bit much at a couple points through the album, but it’s mostly a solid showing from an incredibly talented vocalist.
And that’s not even getting into the vocal features. Soul Elegy
doubles as a who’s who cadre of some of metalcore and deathcore’s biggest names. To list a few, Taylor Barber of Left to Suffer, Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel, Marcus Bridge of Northlane, and Sean Harmanis of Make Them Suffer all lend their talents to the album. There are times when they can seem pretty damn shoehorned in, but they serve as entertaining mix-ups to the album’s vocal formula.
If it hasn’t been obvious from the amount I’ve talked about it, I have a lot to say about Soul Elegy
being just a huge improvement for Termina. Practically every element of this album is a step up from what came before, and represents a perfect reference point for the band, wherever they may go next. In a YouTube community post announcing this album’s release, Nik stated that the goal of this album was to make “a modern metal jukebox of all our favorite flavors of modern music into one album”. For better or worse, they succeeded. While undeniably chaotic, maybe a little too much so, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable djent/modern metal record that manages to escape the shadow of the bands it clearly takes inspiration from, creating one hell of an enjoyable listen.
Now if only How to Metal
could have this level of energy and creativity...