Terror Level Red - No Man's Land [12 inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Terror Level Red

No Man's Land [12 inch] (2007)


Writing a posthumous review for a disbanded act often feels like diverging sentiments are pulling in opposite directions. On one hand, it feels a little heartless to shit all over a band's parting material, given that they'll have no chance to redeem themselves. On the other hand, there's really no point in talking them up too much because, well, they don't have much of a future. Thankfully, Terror Level Red's No Man's Land isn't much of an enigma to evaluate, displaying a young but determined company of teenage punks doing their best to spread youthful dissidence outbound from NYC.

Luckily for Terror Level Red, I've been more heavily immersing myself in Profane Existence and other crusty collectives recently, increasing my tolerance of intentionally muddy production and all the things that go along with an acquired taste in crust. Because outside of the acoustic album intro and interlude of charango (!) and cello, No Man's Land is pretty much straight crust with just a touch of thrash and perhaps a bit of Sabbath worship in the title track. It also works out in the band's favor that I have become much more tolerant of Napalm Death-y belches from vocalists, and for the most part, that's how singers Lucas and Travis [I think it bears mentiong that Travis' last name is Bacon...as in Kevin Bacon's son...not joking - Ed.] do their thing.

Lyrically, Terror Level Red takes on their namesake, launching attacks on immigration restriction ("No Man's Land"), lauding the wisdom of the rebellious mind ("Underground Screams") and of course, 9/11 ("Fallacy"), for which without it there would be no terror levels at all. While maintaining direct and topical discourse in the abovementioned tracks, TLR does falter a bit with an approach that's a bit unfocused and jejune in "Contain": "I can't contain this anger anymore / The burning fear of wanting something more / Lock me up inside my mental cage / Forcing me to hold back all my rage." That aside, TLR has plenty of adept lyrics to offer, like a couple great one-liners in the album's title track such as "Stabbing a flag into the heart of the land" and "Buried containment, badges and barbed wire."

While it's sad to see any band split up (outside of Skrewdriver, the Scumfucks and the like), Terror Level Red can rest easier having pieced together an uncompromising crust album and having made their final drop in the ocean of music a good one. And best of all, the band had the astute awareness to quote the legendary advice of the Big Boys on their vinyl lyrics insert: "Now go and start your own band."