2015’s In Case You Missed: Black Fast’s Terms of Surrender

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In 2015 we had the privilege of wading through hundreds of noteworthy heavy metal records, from some of the sickest violent death metal to a double album of shiny djent, with no shortage of experimental and avant garde bands. Perhaps this great variety has led some to miss Black Fast‘s sophomore LP Terms of Surrender.

Black Fast’s sound may appeal to anyone who’s a fan of Death, Revocation, or Vektor.  The music is chock-full of speedy riffs that find the sweet spot between death metal and thrash, with a foot placed firmly on the gas pedal that never lets up. Alongside the riffs is a bass guitar played with enough confidence to bounce around the riffs, straying far enough away to make its presence known but also return and sync up when needed. The drums serve as a steady driving force, leading the charge in a precise and controlled fashion; the fills are implanted at strategic locations to avoid dethroning the riffs. Vocal delivery is raspy and quick with no clean singing whatsoever, thankfully.

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(Ryan – bass, Ross – drums, Trevor – guitar, Aaron – vocals/guitar)

Much like other famous thrash bands whom we hold dear, Black Fast finds strength in the almighty riff rather than non- traditional song structures or unique instrumentation. The formula is simple: craft some great death/thrash riffs, encapsulate them within a memorable song, sprinkle melodic solos throughout, and repeat. Similar to the veterans of old like Testament and Kreator, it’s this consistency which gives us comfort, knowing that the band isn’t going to pull a 180 after a few songs and yank us right out of the concise, 44-minute journey.

Terms of Surrender hits the ground running with “The Keep”; a drum fill fires up the engine, twin guitars rev up to redline, and the bass drops like a clutch. Better hold on, this beast isn’t slowing down. Next is the album’s first single “To Propagate the Void” which keeps the momentum going and includes some especially memorable soloing. Track three (the longest on here at 6:45) “The Coming Swarm” is the band’s ultimate achievement, combining all of the elements that make Black Fast wonderful, sandwiched between a melodic intro and outro that feel like something Megadeth did back in the days of Rust In Peace.

Other standouts include “Haunted Vigil” and “The Fall”, and while a song or two doesn’t pack quite as much of a punch there really isn’t a dud on here! To conclude the album, “Until Dust” doesn’t bring any extra ingredients to the table like a typical album closer would, such as unexpected progressive elements or lengthy dueling guitar solos. It’s just short and sweet with melodic riffs informing you that the massive barrage of chaos is almost over. As the song comes to an end, it holds a single guitar note for a second and then presents a silence so abrupt that the listener feels invisibly coerced into hitting repeat and beginning the journey all over again.

This album doesn’t take many risks, but it’s obvious that the band feels confident enough letting the music speak for itself. Much like the artwork’s black and white imagery, listeners may find themselves either loving or hating it, depending on where your tastes lean. Terms of Surrender is a terrific album with top-notch production, it’s better than its predecessor and it sets a standard for future albums to come from the band.

(image via Amazon, SkullsNBones)