Holy Terror

Mind Wars

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By the late 1980s, thrash had effectively become established as a stand-alone musical genre, but for all of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of bands instigating mosh pits across the planet, precious few were finding creative ways to push stylistic boundaries, instead of wallowing in the usual Bay Area clichés. Even fewer (except for the equally cliché-bound power metal bands) seemed to remember thrash's origins in traditional, more melodic heavy metal, but Los Angeles' Holy Terror had proven to be one of those with their impressive 1987 debut, Terror and Submission. Surely this had something to do with the leadership of guitarist Kurt Colfelt, who had previously been a member of L.A. speed metal staples Agent Steel, and this somewhat hybrid recipe was back, relatively unchanged for Holy Terror's sophomore effort, Mind Wars, in 1988. Here, again, Colfelt and his sparring partner Mike Alvord consistently injected distinctive harmonies and high-flying solos into their razor-fast riffs, while vocalist Keith Deen held up his end of the bargain by effortlessly alternating his growls and screams with patches of clean singing. But Holy Terror's songwriting had also improved dramatically since album number one, and thus face-melting offerings like "Debt of Pain," "Damned by Judges," and "No Resurrection" delivered even more bruising aggression at blinding velocity while in no way compromising their musicality. At the same time, more moderately paced offerings like the galloping "The Immoral Wasteland" and the multiple-personality epic "A Fools Gold/Terminal Humor/Mind Wars" (replete with a smorgasbord of different riffs and passages, amusing narrations, and even a bass solo) represented some of the most intriguing, accomplished, and dynamically varied thrash metal ever heard between Metallica and Annihilator. (In fact, it's quite certain that the latter's Jeff Waters took extensive notes from Mind Wars for his band's imminent debut album.) Unfortunately, Holy Terror's accomplishment still went unrecognized by the wider heavy metal fraternity, consigning this potential thrash classic to the cruel fate of mere cult status.

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