Terror Universal is a supergroup formed from members whose past and current bands include the likes of Machine Head, Ill Nino and Soulfly. They wear masks and while they describe their music as the sonic equivalent of a “slasher film” within the first couple of tracks it’s clear that ‘Make Them Bleed’ is also a love letter to the Nu Metal scene of the 1990s and early 2000’s. If you haven’t closed the page by now you may find something to like in Terror Universals debut album, but it’s unlikely to provoke a huge amount of excitement.
I don’t want to imply that ‘Make Them Bleed’ is a terrible album – it’s not. The bands got an incredible amount of experience between them and it shows with incredibly tight instrumentation. Riffs are catchy, drums are perfectly in time and vocalist “Plague” is perhaps their greatest asset with powerful cleans and edgy growls. The choruses of “Welcome to Hell” and “Make Them Bleed” are as catchy anything from the biggest Nu Metal bands and if this album had come out at the peak of the scene I could see the band gaining a sizable fan base. The problem is that it’s 2017 and I’m not sure that the audience this album is aimed at still exists in the same way.
Most of the songs on “Make Them Bleed” would be good fun live, particularily at festivals, with their hooky sing-along choruses and simple song patterns. The problem is that while listening at home I feel myself itching for the skip button halfway through most songs. If you’re in any way familiar with the big names of Nu Metal you’re going to find zero surprises here. Every song follows pretty much the same structure and for a band who claim horror movies are a huge inspiration, there’s a surprising lack of atmosphere or suspense.
All of these problems are compounded by some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear. How the words “With The Flesh From Off Your Face / Replace Me With Your Skin / It’s The Only Way That I Can Feel / The Closest I Can Get“ got into a song without someone being smacked over the head and sent back to the drawing board I really can’t understand. It all adds up to an album that seems like it was created without much thought or emotion.
‘Make Them Bleed’ is a competent album crafted by talented musicians with plenty of catchy riffs and some impressive vocal performances but it’s hard to recommend when it’s so derivative and unimaginative. Everything in this album has been done before and frankly, done better and with more conviction.