No star is safe! Right at a year since their debut album, Traveler return with their second full-length, Termination Shock. Traveler made waves in 2018 and 2019 with their brand of no-frills heavy metal heavily rooted in the dual-lead assault characteristic of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Termination Shock certainly continues that trend. From the frantic drum fill leading into the infectiously catchy riff which kicks off the first track, you know what you’re in for.
The main difference in this album relative to their debut is the band getting a little more out-of-the-box with vocals melodies and flair. The title track makes great use of this, often layering falsetto screams atop commanding shouts. I LOVE this element of the track and its something I mainly associate with Tyrant’s Too Late to Pray. There’s plenty more to love beyond the vocals, too, of course. Main songwriter Matt Ries delivers once again on this album with catchy riffs and an abundance of compelling leads that put the band on everyone’s radar.
To me this band is at their strongest in either of two speeds: fast and faster. A mid-paced heavy metal trot taken up a notch or two creates a space where the riffs can really shine through and the leads really develop themselves into something compelling and memorable, while still making good use of the frantic energy delivered by JP Abboud’s iconic voice. This has been Traveler’s comfort zone on most of their material to date. A welcome addition on this album, however, is the band’s proficiency at pushing the tempo even higher while still developing the song to its full potential. I’m speaking specifically of “Deepspace”. It’s all the elements I like about this band crammed into a starship at light speed: blistering speed metal riffs supported by pummeling double bass and JP’s wails followed by a solo that any of the classics of the genre would be proud to claim. Another element I particularly like about this track that was missing from much of the album (or at least not mixed nearly as prominently), is the creative use of bass to compliment the main melody. The tasteful bass licks were one of my favorite aspects of the debut album and I’m stoked to see it make at least a short reappearance on Termination Shock.
Unfortunately, this album suffers from the same problem that every band encounters when they strike gold on their first demo. They’ve set the bar very high for themselves. Like I said, this band is at their strongest with the tempo set high. There’s several tracks on Termination Shock that start out with slower and more emotional sections and I gotta be honest, I find myself waiting for the song to kick in the whole time. When they do kick in, both tracks hang out at more of a mid-paced trot and I can’t help but wish for a more energetic payoff. Underneath the high bar set by Traveler’s faster numbers, tracks like that leave me a bit underwhelmed.
All this being said, within the confines of the “NWOTHM”, Traveler are the one of the best poster-children of the movement: undeniably influenced by classic heavy metal without falling into the pitfall of worship, while being unarguably modern. Termination Shock keeps that banner held high and stands strong as a slab of star-killing fist-pumping heavy metal.
Favorite Track: Deepspace
Album Rating: 70/100
Gates of Hell Records
Neil · May 1, 2020 at 12:32 pm
Great review but I really question the numerical rating that you gave this album. I have been reading your site for awhile and I absolutely love what you are doing on this site. I find that your reviewers are generally very generous with the numerical ratings. I have found that fairly mediocre albums usually score at the lowest in the low 80s and really good albums almost always score in the 90s. This is a very good album and I think that that is shown in the review, but a 70 score? I think this album deserves a higher rating and I would be sad if anyone steered away from this album based on the low numerical score.
Marco · May 1, 2020 at 2:37 pm
Hi Neil thanks for your support kind words. When I started Ride into Glory, I wanted to make sure I never talked about anything I didn’t like as it’d be a waste of everyone’s time and those type of negative vibes aren’t what I’d like. I give this general guideline to all the authors who have join me since. I would say that hopefully we’re not giving any mediocre albums in the 80/100+! The ones we’ve given those ratings to we genuinely like and it’s alright that we have different tastes than you. Now you’re right in the sense that no one on our team liked the new Traveler close to as much as the debut. We likely wouldn’t have reviewed it in the first place if we weren’t such big fans of the band and their previous material. It’s not for a lack of songwriting ability, but this release is notably more spotty than the debut or demo because (in my opinion) the band experimented with slower tempos here. Boone touched on this point pretty well in the review.
To all readers, I 100% suggest supporting and checking out Traveler!
Boone · May 1, 2020 at 4:10 pm
Hey Neil! Thanks for your feedback. To piggyback on what Marco said, there isn’t really a standard Ride Into Glory rating system. Everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a 70, 80, etc. That is to say that I wouldn’t put too much stock in the numerical rating unless comparing reviews from the same author. To me a 70/100 is something competent worth hearing more than once or worth watching them in their future endeavors. For what its worth I do really like Traveler and I’m excited to hear what they put out in the years to come.
Neil · May 1, 2020 at 4:36 pm
Thank you for commenting back. I actually rarely comment online and this is the first time that I have actually commented on a review. The reason I don’t comment on on webpages is that I think that sometimes when people type comments we end up not coming across the way we mean to. I take back what I said about you rating mediocre albums as high as that came across all wrong. What I really mean to say is that I have agreed with all your previous ratings and have been really refreshed to have concluded that you only review albums you like. Upon listening to Termination Shock again this morning I will agree that it is not as strong as the debut; but I still really like it.
I would appreciate if you would remove my previous (and maybe this one too) comment as upon reading it again I see that I was being reactive rather than reflective when writing. I am a person who always tries to be reflective rather than reactive. I truly meant no harm.
Brandon Watkins (@bwat47) · March 8, 2021 at 12:00 am
IMO termination shock is better than the debut
The debut had several really strong songs (Strarbreaker, Street machine, Behind the Iron, Speed Queen), but I find the rest a bit meh.
Termination shock on the other hand I love every song