Terminal: Blacken The Skies
CD | DL
Terminal’s debut album, Blacken The Skies, provides a dark and powerful soundtrack to an environmentally degraded world. The man behind the project, Thomas Mark Anthony, delivers a manifesto in a rampage of relentless, industrial/glam rock fusion in such a way that it cannot, nor should be, ignored.
Terminal is a word that, in any context, conveys a sense of finality or, more darkly, death. When it is adopted as a name for a project and then melded with an album title such as Blacken The Skies, there is little doubt we are in for a fairly rough ride. And when the man behind that project cites key influences on his music as diverse as Marc Bolan and Cabaret Voltaire then who knows what we can expect.
That man behind Terminal is Thomas Mark Anthony, a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist born in Pretoria, South Africa and raised in Canada. When I learn that he is a long-standing anti-apartheid and civil rights activist, I am already in no doubt that whatever project this is, it will have an undeniable focus and something to say about the world we live in right now. Whilst I am not wrong on this, I have to admit I really did not anticipate the impact this album would have on me.
Anthony is clearly not a man to sit back and just accept what is going around him or indeed us all. And it is clear that through this album he has found a perfect vehicle to convey his observations in the most vociferous way possible through a heavy, relentless and almost oppressive body of sound. And as Anthony himself says “If you can’t say it in 4 minutes, it’s probably not worth saying”. This may explain why the 12 songs clock in at only 35 minutes. However, in spite of this brevity, I am left in no doubt about the mission he is on.
The menacing industrial metal sounds in the opening short instrumental of Course Of Empire immediately nods to the influence of Einsturzende Neubauten. But then things really get heavy as we take a Terror Ride which talks of a world of exploitation and victimisation, much of which is ignored. It’s an industrial rampage all wrapped up in the gothic force of the Sisters Of Mercy, the menace of Killing Joke and the synth-pop of Gary Numan.
Deadline is another song of incredible power and intensity as it focuses on the mistrust of authoritarian regimes and pays tribute to those journalists who pay the ultimate sacrifice in attempting to uncover the truth. It’s all industrial/glam rock fusion with the influence of the likes of Cabaret Voltaire shining very brightly.
The threatening tones of Fault Line are fuelled by dark techno beats with gothic overtones as it explores climate collapse. Crackdown takes me into a state of hypnotic trance as it tackles institutional suppression before Extrajudicial provides a brief instrumental interlude of metallic soundscapes.
Dance Fall Pray and Needle Park [Time To Die] are both dominated by pulsating rhythms which threaten danger between every beat. Riot Shields takes you into the realms of the biggest rave in town as it speaks of confrontation and impending disaster, whilst Godfire almost takes us to judgement day itself. The theme continues through TRMNL, suggesting disaster as an inevitability, before strong mechanical rhythms close out the album through the instrumental Collateral Damage.
Blacken The Skies is described as “the soundtrack to a world unbalanced, a society spinning out of control and running out of time” and I’m not about to disagree with that. This is a manifesto to address a bleak and uncompromising world designed to challenge your every thought and emotion. There are no instrumental histrionics, merely heavy, powerful and pulsating rhythms and confrontational messages.
Terminal’s debut album provides a dark and powerful soundtrack on a journey through an environmentally degraded world, with relentless and hypnotic industrial techno beats underpinning a harsh narrative. It may not be an easy listen but it’s utterly compelling and we will all do well to listen.
And when the pandemic finally makes way to allow the return of live music, Terminal are looking forward to taking this on the road with Anthony being joined by US-based drummer Jessica Choi and keyboard player David Ross Phillips. I suggest that this will be an experience not to be missed.
All words by Ian Corbridge. You can find more of his writing at his author profile.