When I think of melodeath – and particularly death metal – two places come to mind: Gothenburg, Sweden and Tampa, Florida. As the birthplaces of modern death metal as we know it to be, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the genre has diversified to the point where one can recognize the difference between each regional/state scene. In the case of the Bay Area band Light This City, their blend of melodeath on Terminal Bloom is infused with a heavy dose of thrash, making it sound both vibrant and hard as nails.
Although not initially impressed with Terminal Bloom as a whole, I became interested in the minute details that made the album become more interesting each time I listened to it – vocalist Laura Nichol’s aggressive yet powerful vocals, the infused melodeath-thrash musical backing, and the balance between worship and creativity. There is a slight Arch Enemy influence throughout the album, but Light This City are both creative and passionate in their approach to melodeath, making sure that the listener can distinctly hear the difference in sound. While Arch Enemy can be smooth and methodical, Light This City is gritty and filled with impassioned rage that reflects in the music. The heavy drumming and guitar riffing compliment the vocals and drive into you even at their slowest tempo, making you want to headbang. Even with acoustic parts thrown in to temper the onslaught, the music is a battering ram of sounds and emotions that hits harder than expected, emphasizing the death part of “melodeath.” These guys are not here to sit down and take you by the hand; they are here to show just how focused they are in showing you a good time.
Focusing on some of the more technical details, everything about Terminal Bloom is both precise and concise. A testament to their musicianship, the musical placement and dynamics between the vocals and the instruments are layered fantastically well to the point that nothing seems out of place. Even at the most neck-breaking and anguishing points of “Agents of Fate” and “Extinguished,” the music is completely well-executed. Because of the precision employed, the music is also concise and succinct. Each song lasts between three to four minutes – with the exception of “Death Downwind” and “Extinguished” – and they convey everything they need to without fuss. There are no gimmicks or long-winded musical passages; they just go straight to the point, and I am into it.
All in all, Terminal Bloom is an album that straddles the fine line between influence and originality. Light This City is well-aware of their progenitors in sound, and they have taken their influence to new heights by working their own identity into the music. This is excellent, well-crafted melodeath that deserves to be played loud, and the aggression behind the music makes this album a banger.
Welcome back, Light This City!