It should be no secret that one of the best new traditional metal bands to emerge in the last decade has been Visigoth. Both of their full-length albums (especially Conqueror’s Oath) have been stunning moments to what throwback epic metal can truly be when approached with a more modern mindset and production job. One of the biggest draws, for me at least, is Jake Rogers. I’ve been in a huge minority for years in that I think Mark Shelton is just a flat out bad vocalist and Manilla Road would actually be as good as their fans say they are if they had a better singer. Rogers’s booming, muscle-bound masculinity really cements Visigoth as the closest thing to this fantasy version of Manilla Road we’re ever going to get.
I bring all of this up because Visigoth is without a doubt the closest sonic parallel to Terminus here, and they kick ass for all of the same reasons. A Single Point of Light may not be the apex of traditional metal in 2019 (let’s not pretend Smoulder doesn’t exist), but it is a highlight regardless. Like Conqueror’s Oath, this has a very healthy mix of pounding mid-paced anthems like “Harvest” and “Spinning Webs, Catching Dreams” and fun uptempo cookers like “To Ash, to Dust” and “Cry Havoc.” The constant mood and tempo shifts keep the album from becoming stale and manage to remain unified by excellent hooks and a killer Rogers-esque vocal performance. James Beattie’s voice is similarly powerful and muscular, with vibrato strong enough to knock out a bare-knuckle boxer. He may not be perfect (he sounds like he’s only using 30% of his power on “Flesh Falls from Steel,” for example) but he’s doubtlessly the best part of the album. Check out the Boltendahl-esque low rattle he utilizes on “Harvest,” he’s got a surprising amount of range.
The instrumental portion of A Single Point of Light is all handled by one man, David Gillespie, and I think the fact that he’s actually a drummer helps a lot with the natural cohesion of the album. His natural and powerful performance really gives the impression of a full band lineup. Not that there’s anything wrong with a drum machine, but it can stand out for the wrong reasons at times, and non-drummers writing drums tend to either be boring and basic or completely unrealistically wild. That’s not to say he’s particularly inventive behind the kit, but it just… feels right, ya know? He’s a talented guitarist as well, melding basic gallops with high flying harmonized shredding so easily you’d never guess it was all just one guy. He’s good at understanding when to get reckless and when to let the massive atmosphere take over, and that’s the album’s greatest strength.
Just like with that Visigoth album I won’t stop drooling over, A Single Point of Light runs the gamut between many different approaches to epic metal, and it nails all of them effortlessly. Terminus has proven themselves to me as one of the young bands to watch at this point in metal’s history. I’m not the biggest fan of regressive throwbacks on principle, but these dudes know how to make their music stand out. They may not throw too many new ideas at you, but the ideas they have are time-honored traditions of metal supremacy, and I can’t really think of too many complaints.
A Single Point of Light will be released by Cruz Del Sur on November 8th, 2019 and can be bought here.