Album: Trapped in a World
Label: War Records
Release Date: March 5th, 2021
For Fans Of: Buried Alive, Hatebreed, Agnostic Front
The reign of Terror continues.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of Terror’s emergence on the Southern California hardcore music scene as a force to be reckoned with. The band’s ultra-energetic, pulse-pounding musical approach and empowering lyrical themes continue to win them a rabid following, securing their place as the standard-bearers of their enduring brand of hardcore. Frontman and scene ambassador Scott Vogel’s lyrics have always motivated fans to create positive change—and Terror’s traditional sound has been doing just that to the scene for almost two decades.
One key element in Terror’s success is their reputation as an electrifying live powerhouse. Fans will be happy to learn that finally, the five-member group has found a way to capture the full impact of their in-your-face stage energy on an album. Trapped in a World delivers songs from the band’s seminal first two records, 2003’s Lowest of the Low and 2004’s One With the Underdogs, as unrestrained as possible on an album that clocks in at a blistering 23 minutes.
Trapped in a World is a satisfying survey of the group’s early, sleep-on-the-floor, DIY days, featuring many of their most popular tunes of the time. The album was recorded live with all musicians playing at once at Jet to Mars Studios in Granada Hills, California. The result is a hybrid project: 12 tracks of unmistakable rehearsal tape energy fused with the spirit of Terror’s live performances. The treatment is surprisingly reminiscent of Oingo Boingo’s kooky Boingo Alive: A Celebration of a Decade, where that band similarly captured the energy of their live performances on a double LP by re-recording songs live on a soundstage rather than in concert.
When Trapped in a World opens with the hum of Martin Stewart and Jordan Posner’s pickups and the thud of Chris Linkovich’s palm on the bass strings, for just a second, you are instantly transported to a 100-cap stage. You see the long sleeves and cargo pants. You smell the beer in the carpet. You can’t wait to get yelled at by venue security. But something’s different. There’s no crowd noise.
It’s just you and Terror, alone together.
The wall of sound begins. Vogel’s signature blown-out vocals hit you with a defiant “Noooo!” before begging the question, “What is it like to choke on every word you say?” Vogel isn’t singing to you; he’s singing for you. You and he are about to face your enemies—and your demons—together. And every syllable is clear. The raw yelps of the original Lowest of the Low recordings are replaced with a loose control Vogel has developed over the years to help his snide lyrics resonate. The guitars, panned hard left and right, are also clearer, with a crunchy 5150-ish tone smothered in smooth, liquid gain. Dialed-up treble cuts confidently through the mix, showcasing the unnecessary precision these skilled craftsmen bring to their roles.
The last word of track one (“Choke!”) is actually the first word you hear on track two. All of these songs bleed together. This is one set, one statement, made to grok all at once. If you’re new to Terror and you came to peck around their early catalog, you came to the wrong place. Go listen to the original recordings. But if you’re new and you’re here for an uninterrupted, 23-minute master class in this legacy hardcore act, you’ll get exactly what you came for.
Trapped in a World reminds you again and again why Terror is the undisputed champion of traditional hardcore. With a simple “Fuck everything and everybody,” the lyrics to Out of My Face succeed where more popular (and pouty) anthems like Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff miserably fail. Drummer Nick Jett always seems to know exactly what to play to fuse the guitars and bass together seamlessly. Just listen to the chorus of Less Than Zero hold together like rockwork, providing you the solid ground to do as Vogel commands and “pick yourself back up.”
By the time Crushed By the Truth enters the set, you’ve likely recognized all the tools in Terror’s no-frills sonic toolbelt. But like the craftsmen they are, they use the tools well and always select the right one for the job. This is 2004 Terror. Meat and potatoes Terror. And if Trapped in a World has a flaw, it’s this: the zealous faithfulness to these early songs comes at the expense of ignoring Terror’s 20-year growth. When the bass and guitars on Keep Your Mouth Shut take a much-needed break from mirroring each other for most of the album—splitting into rich bass chords, chugging rhythms, and pick squeals—you might find yourself itching for more recent, expertly arranged bruisers like 2018’s Mental Demolition. The band was clearly inspired to dig through old gems here with recently-resurfaced guitarist Todd Jones, so it’s unfair to expect anything different. Just know that this album may leave you a) hungry for songs that explore the untapped potential of this new Jones-infused band dynamic, and b) hoping that their next highly-anticipated LP satisfies that hunger.
Regardless, Trapped in a World ultimately proves how evergreen these formidable years of Terror and the traditional hardcore genre really are. Whether you’re new to Terror and looking for a quick download of their early years, or you’re deep-rooted in the scene and nostalgic for the days when you needed a map to find the venue, Trapped in a World is your ticket to a one-capped live performance of the explosive spectacle that was—and is—Terror.
1. Lowest of the Low
2. Life and Death
3. Out of My Face
4. Keep Your Distance
5. Less Than Zero
7. Better Off Without You
8. Crushed by the Truth
9. Not This Time
10. One with the Underdogs
11. Keep Your Mouth Shut
12. Push It Away
Total Playing Time: 23:23