Holy Terror


Terror and Submission

Holy Terror - Terror and Submission ©1987 Combat/Under One Flag
1. Black Plague
2. Evil's Rising
3. Blood of the Saints
4. Mortal Fear
5. Guardians of the Netherworld
6. Distant Calling
7. Terror and Submission
8. Tomorrow's End
9. Alpha Omega The Bringer of Balance

Holy Terror will forever be remembered, if they are remembered at all, as another second-tier California thrash/speed metal band that served as bench-warmers while their more erstwhile contemporaries played the game. Founded by former Agent Steel guitarist Kurt Colfelt, Holy Terror's two albums are raging barnstormers of speed metal goodness. Their debut, perhaps the lesser realized of the two, utilized an under-mixed guitar tone that actually added a fair bit of scorched-Earth atmosphere to the album, and introduced the world (albeit on a small scale) to the venomous and unique vocals of one Keith Deen, who would rise to further prominence on Mind Wars, their second album, only to vanish into complete obscurity shortly thereafter.

Holy Terror's strength lay in its command of melody and blackened atmosphere in the midst of the manic tempos and swirling thrash riffs the band throws around. Kurt Colfelt, the band's de-facto mastermind and lead guitarist, and rhythm guitarist Mike Alvord, trade riffs like there's no tomorrow, while bassist Floyd Flannery (actually audible in the mix) and drummer Jack Schwartz lay the speedy foundation down just as well. Of course, it is singer Keith Deen who steals the show, although his approach is a bit more traditional and certainly less focused here than on their second album (he sounds like Roger Daltry after a demonic possession). The album, re-mixed from their demo for major distribution, is a bit rough sonically, but it is one of those seemingly accidental cases in which an album's raw sound actually adds to the atmosphere of the music. Altogether, Terror and Submission does not display as much ambition or songwriting chops as their Mind Wars album, but if you are looking for quality and unique melodic thrash, look no further than this.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 09/2008

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Mind Wars

Holy Terror - Mind Wars ©1988 Under One Flag
1. Judas Reward
2. Debt of Pain
3. The Immoral Wasteland
4. A Fool's Gold
5. Terminal Humor
6. Mind Wars
7. Damned By Judges
8. Do Unto Others
9. No Resurrection
10. Christian Resistance

For their second and final album, Holy Terror lead guitarist/ubermensche Kurt Kilfelt saw fit to once again handle the production duties, but whereas Terror and Submission was remixed from a demo, resulting in what some may argue as "poor sound quality," Mind Wars is its own beast entirely, and boy, does it rage and rock with the best of them.

Allegedly using a portion of the recording budget to purchase equipment and old tube amplifiers from the 70s (the band was, after all, comprised of 70s hard rockers playing thrash), Holy Terror ended up releasing one of the most underrated and altogether best thrash albums of the 1980s. The speed, anger and urgency inherent in the music was given a sense of warmth and space, and guitarists Rich Alvord and Kilfelt found the perfect balance of sharp riffs and melodic, soaring leads. "Debt of Pain", a re-working of a song Kilfelt contributed to Agent Steele's debut before being ousted from that band, has an almost D-beat punk feel at times, and "The Immoral Wasteland" veers into a more melodic classic metal territory. Throughout all the songs, however, it was vocalist Keith Deen who truly came into his own; his madman arrangements running the gamut of thrash shouting, proto-death metal growling, nasal melodic Halford-isms, and the rantings and ravings of Yosemite Sam by way of Beezelbub. It truly is a classic performance, and one does naught but wish that Mr. Deen didn't vanish into complete obscurity shortly after the band dissolved, if only to see where he would go from there. His crazed shrieking in the middle of "Christian Resistance" and the desperate shouting of "It's not fair! It's not fucking fair!" on "Do Unto Others" are particularly memorable.

While it doesn't have the stature of Reign in Blood or even Bonded By Blood, Mind Wars is essential to any fan of good thrash or metal in general.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 04/2009


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