It’s easy to imagine Traveler’s second full-length album as just an extension of their debut. After all, Termination Shock is coming out just barely over a year later, and the cover art even features the same sort of color scheme and space horror imagery. The album certainly doesn’t stray too far from the band’s traditional metal foundation, but that style seems to be pushed to much further extents this time around with a headier attitude behind it.
Traveler’s debut was a pretty fast-paced affair, but this album pushes those speeds to greater intensities. In addition to the tempos themselves being faster, the musicianship feels more aggressive with the guitar rhythms having a sharper edge and the drums having more power behind them. The title track’s precision sounds like Harry Conklin fronting Thundersteel-era Riot, “Foreverman” and the closing “Terra Exodus” are sufficiently anthemic, and the rawness of “Deepspace” takes the group’s early Helloween aspirations to downright uncanny heights.
Of course, the album also takes the time to expand its dynamics to more melodic ends. “Diary of a Maiden” (I definitely keep reading that as Madman) is the most abstract that the band gets thanks to its more mid-tempo pacing, and smooth guitar flourishes. I also love how the soft introduction of “After the Future” reminds me of Bruce Dickinson’s “Tears of the Dragon” before venturing off in a more dramatic direction that sounds like something off Pharaoh’s Bury the Light.
As much as Traveler’s debut makes for more fun sing-along fare, Termination Shock is a stronger, more fleshed out venture. Its faster speeds make for plenty of adrenaline-fueled headbangers, but there are enough outlying tracks to invite the potential for further growth beyond a flash in the pan presentation. It may still be a little too derivative to convert any skeptics, but classic metal fans who liked the first album just might like the second even more.
“After the Future”