Prior to the recent release of TERROR's "Always the Hard Way", many were surely thinking something along the lines of, "How in the hell are they ever going to match the blind rage, unbelievable intensity, and true hardcore delivery of 2004's 'One with the Underdogs'." That's an easy one, kids. You make another outstanding hardcore album. I'm not yet ready to say that the members of TERROR have topped themselves again, but I'm leaning closer to it with every spin of this vicious little bastard.
On "Always the Hard Way", these Los Angeles warriors once again put the pretenders to shame by dishing out track after track of relentlessly brutal hardcore. Though there is a significant metal edge to several tracks, that facet of the album has far more to do with a handful of thrashy crossover riffs than anything resembling metalcore. Trust me, "Always the Hard Way" is a friggin' hardcore album…period. Even though the odd pace change is utilized, mainly breaks for brief and effective chug grooves, those that know anything about TERROR will realize that this is anything but one of those breakdown-upon-breakdown 'core albums that continue to flood the market. With the exception of the mid-tempo bulldozer crush of "Smash Through You" and a hip-hop track by MURS and MR. DIBBS called "Dibbs and Murs Check In", "Always the Hard Way" is primarily about speed, speed, and more speed. "All For Revenge", "Strike Down", "Test My Convictions", the list of lightning quick bludgeon bursts goes on and on. Oh, and don't get your panties in a twist over the hip-hop track. Vogel is a self-described fan of the style and the tune is a street trough piece that works surprisingly well amidst the hardcore violence.
"Always the Hard Way" is about songs that stick and performances that slay. The vocals of Scott Vogel are once again unbelievably violent, the riffing of guitarists Doug Weber and Franc Novinec are ferocious, and the rhythm section of drummer Nick Jett and Jonathan Buske is painfully intense. Through all the damage inflicted the quintet is still able to leave vocal lines and choruses imbedded in the brain, as the gang-shouted title track and "Last of the Diehards" so aptly illustrate. Aside from a slew of friends enlisted for various gang vocal parts, "So Close to Defeat" features LEEWAY's Eddie Sutton on solo guest vocals during the last section of yet another superb tune. Band pal Aaron of DEATH THREAT trades barbs with Vogel on "You Can't Break Me", the former's peculiar style providing effective contrast to Vogel's throaty bark. In addition, each set of lyrics in the booklet comes with an explanation of the inspiration behind the song.
TERROR doesn't know how to fake it. Make no mistake; this is the hard stuff. Let's not beat around the bush here, "Always the Hard Way" is 2006's hardcore gold standard.