Never mind the little pronouncement that decorates Terror’s debut full-length, ‘One with the Underdogs’ on Trustkill, that reads in boldface so as not to be missed, “THIS IS REAL HARDCORE!” (at least on my copy!). No, one needn’t be told what Terror play. You like traditional hardcore, you’ll like Terror. No ifs, ands, or buts. As vocalist Scott Vogel says, let the music and lyrics do the talking. So, yes, there are plenty of crappy faux-hardcore bands out there, but we don’t have to be told that Terror is not one of these unsavory outfits. Listen and you’ll know this is the real deal.

This idea that the band is “real” is corroborated when hearing Scott talk about the forming of Terror in 2002. During a recent conversation I badgered the vocalist with questions of whether perhaps being in renowned bands prior to Terror gave them an edge – that maybe people saw some of the members came from bands (Buried Alive and Carry On) they liked or heard of and that sparked their interest in hearing Terror. Scott’s reply is logical, as he states, “To a certain extent [having members from previous bands] gets people interested. I think you gotta back it up still.” Plus, he mentions that notoriety can have negative effects too because “people expect a brand new band and compare it to your old band that’s been around for years and that’s a hard thing to live up to…It’s hard to compare your demo to a band’s full-length album,” and that the new band needs time to hone its songwriting and find its own sound. Basically, it’s a double-edged sword, cutting both ways. And here’s where Terror’s true colors and heart come through, as he describes his own fascination with bands that feature “ex-members of…” “It just tells me when their band broke up they didn’t just fade away or give up; they just picked up the pieces and started fresh, which is important to me ‘cause a lot of bands talk about how important music and hardcore is to them and they’re here today and then fade away so quick. So that to me means they’re really not into it. “

Their album, ‘One with the Underdogs’, is a clinic in the art of pummeling intensity and sheer brutality. Each of the 13 tracks is heavy and aggressive, featuring the prerequisite mosh parts and tough, yelled vocals. Though from California, the guys – Vogel, drummer Nick Jett (the only two original members remaining), guitarists Doug Weber and Frank Novinec, and bassist Carl Schwartz – adeptly fuse ingredients of both East and West Coast hardcore, taking cues from such NYHC notables as Agnostic Front, Warzone, Madball, and Breakdown, but also California bands like Strife and Chain of Strength. Scott puts it this way: “I think our sound is just traditional hardcore with a little bit of metal thrown in, you know, just in your face, unrelenting.”

And lyrically, Scott writes about what he knows. The title itself should be explanation enough of what topics the record covers overall. “‘One with the Underdogs’ means to me that, you know, most of the people I know that are involved in this music scene come from some bullshit or some fucked-up shit in their background, and I think we all come together from the things that are shoved in our face we don’t wanna accept,” adding, “[What it] means to me is that if we all come together and stand as one, we can fight through all this bullshit that’s thrown our way.” Consequently, many tracks deal with rising above, fighting in the face of adversity, being true to oneself, and as he brought up before, not giving up, as on the title track, of course, as well as “Overcome”; “Keep Your Mouth Shut”, which features lines like: “Try and try to tear me down/Run and run – run your mouth/But it’s you who’s lost in social ills, lusts and greeds/This is for the outcasts that never fit/This is all that we need;” and the exceptional “Find My Way”, a song that recounts much hardship, but in the end sees the narrator striving and being able to go on. In short, Terror are quite a positive band with good messages.

Scott does also admit while speaking of his lyrics, however, that much of the problems “in the hardcore scene are caused by hardcore kids themselves, so if we continue on that path, there’ll be a lost of bullshit still.” And this idea can be discerned in some compositions as well. In any case, prior to releasing this album, Terror put out an EP in 2003 called ‘Lowest of the Low’ (Bridge Nine). When asked how the two records differ in his view, Scott just feels the album maintains the same style and sound showcased on the EP, but is taken to the next level and though, bludgeoning, songs do have different tones and tempos – they’ve got songs characterized by full-on speed along with some mid-tempo offerings and even, seemingly to Scott’s pleasure, a couple songs over the two-minute mark – something they’ve never done previously. According to the frontman, it’s just “more in your face, [there are] more harder breakdowns, better lyrics, better songwriting. That was the plan and I think we pulled it off. I like the record a lot,” he satisfyingly concludes. Not to mention they got a little help from friends Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Freddy Cricien (Madball), and Lord Ezac (Skarhead), who all lent their voices to the record.

It’s no surprise the guys are touring hard on this record. They’re right now on tour with one of the greats – Sick of It All, along with Champion, and at first Time in Malta, but since this band dropped off the tour, the impressive With Honor. This tour, though, has not come without problems, as Scott had to sit-out five shows, re-injuring some discs in his neck. (The band DID go on without him, switching the line-up accordingly.) At the time of our conversation he seemed to be well again and had been singing for a week or two already. Hopefully he’ll stay healthy, as once this trek concludes August 22 in Philly, Terror will be back out shortly thereafter. In October they’ll be on the road with Unearth, Black Dahlia Murder, and Remembering Never. Word is in February they’ll be playing Europe with Agnostic Front. Check the band’s Website for details.

Interview date: Aug 11, 2004

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