The Music Cartel, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/25/1999
There are times when I'm reviewing a particular album that I can't get a certain thought out of my head. That happened just the other day, while I was listening to the latest release from Swedish hard rockers Terra Firma. The more I listened to this self-titled release, I couldn't help but think, "Can't these guys play a song in any chord except D?"
Granted, they do know more than one chord, but there is a painful lack of variety on this disc, which is otherwise listenable. In a sense, the band - vocalist Lord Chritus, guitarist Freddie Eugene, bassist Nico Moosebeach and drummer Izmo Ledderfejs - try to mimic the sound that their fellow labelmates Sheavy have put forth, only with more mixed results.
Terra Firma does have a very poppy Black Sabbath sound to their music, though it often sounds like things haven't quite jelled yet with the band. Tracks like "Rainbow Ride" and "Goatburn", while decent enough to listen to on the first pass, show some weakness in the songwriting and attempted vocal layering, which doesn't sync up well.
The Sabbath influences come forth the strongest and the best on "...And The 8th Seal Was Her's", a track that gives the term "bombastic" a good name. This, along with the acoustic-veined "Separate Graves", dare to suggest promise for Terra Firma, and are the highlights of the album.
But soon, it's back to business as usual, as well as the universal worship of the D chord on Terra Firma. Tracks like "Spiral Guru" and "Nimbus" all tend to blend together, simply because the band refuses to play any song that doesn't have its roots in the D chord. (Note to the band: On "Nimbus," just because you play the D chord faster doesn't mean the key has changed.)
So why the lack of variety in the music? It certainly isn't an indication of Eugene's guitar skills, 'cause he proves he's a better musician than some of the music tends to lead one to believe. Maybe, just maybe, it's a limitation in Chritus's vocal range - though I think there is something more to it than just that.
And what is more disappointing about this is that Terra Firma, otherwise, is a listenable album that is sure to get people's manes swinging to the beat more than once. But like a magician who knows only one trick, things get real old, real fast.
Terra Firma is an okay effort, and it does suggest bigger and grander things for this band - but they need to start writing songs in more than one key if they're going to keep my interest.