Droid | ‘Terrestrial Mutations’
What comes to mind with the word ‘Droid’?
Well most likely, the robotic lads from Star Wars will top the list. Crucially though, that universe has a tendency to imbue their metallic characters with real heart and attitude.
That makes it a perfectly chosen name for this younger Canadian trio, who manage to inject both creativity and personality into every gilded metal second of ‘Terrestrial Mutations’, their debut full-length.
The very first few seconds of ‘Amorphous Forms’ shows you exactly what you’re dealing with, as a slick, whip-like riff rapidly unfolds. It’s tasteful while still being a total headbanger, and the song proper follows up nicely, with the whispered ‘White pills dissolve…’ refrain being an excellent touch.
As the album progresses, it’s clear that the group have fully matured beyond the nascent thrash-metal fixation their demo showcased. This record is far more considered, far fuller sounding, and reaches skyward from word go.
Voivod is the constant touchstone here, with the young band clearly taking a lot of inspiration from that band’s mid-period, particularly ‘The Outer Limits’. This is present in the production too, with the bass carrying just as much weight in the mix here as the guitar.
What’s particularly enjoyable about ‘Terrestrial Mutations’ is how the band manages to balance pretty frantic, almost Megadeth-esque shredding with utterly relaxed and chilled out moments.
Nowhere is this accomplished better than on the epic title track, where a juicy chord progression builds to a rueful, almost regretful-sounding vocal refrain. Extremely classy.
They are a trio, and they all carry weight across this, with constant, attention-grabbing riffs and flowing bass that’s full of nuance. While the drums are perhaps the least flashy element, the rich mix really lays everything out in almost regal fashion.
There is a poise but also a swagger about the album that draws the hand to the repeat button. ‘Pain of Reincarnation’ offers up some properly bold sounding riffing, mixing bluesy (almost boogie-like) riffing before injecting the venom of a really tight thrash band.
The guitar really is the star here, but there’s numerous hints of a love for good old rock throughout this. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if there were Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Ted Nugent records getting blasted alongside Voivod and Coroner while this got written.
The honest charm of the trio means it never gets never cheesy, and there’s more than enough metallic precision going on to almost constantly satisfy. That’s quite the achievement considering this is over an hour long.
There are of course, a few elements that aren’t completely formed for Droid just yet. ‘Mission Drift’ drifts just that little bit too close to Voivod’s orbit but rescues things with a demented sounding ending.
The vocals, when they depart from the usual shout, promise much greater things.
And honestly, it would also be cool to hear them to let loose once and really thrash the living hell out of us – sometimes they’re clearly capable of.
Yet this record is moody, cutting and full of personality. It provides enough to justify the dark sunset band photo on the inside of the record (this being Temple of Mystery’s tape version being reviewed).
Set yourself a course to the Droid space station, and you’re not likely to regret it at all. File as one of the more interesting little bands operating in the North American metal underground.
4.3 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 08/11/17