Terminal Nation probably could not have picked a better year to release a debut album. The Little Rock, AK skull crushers have practically, unwillingly narrating the slow demise of the United States and the rest of the world. With bloodshot eyes-wide and fists clenched, Terminal Nation has, like pallbearers, ushered in Holocene Extinction, a biting, brutal, fiery slice of cynicism and honesty.
Taking a moment to reflect on previous releases, Terminal Nation is a band one might remember dabbling in the powerviolence/hardcore-punk/grind genres; playing more to more of an Infest or No Comment sound. This was even apparent on the One-Party System split with Neckbeard Deathcamp. That has changed. While Terminal Nation retains their roots plenty on Holocene Extinction, the band has dived full-bore into incorporating a whole lot of death metal.
Holocene Extinction is a huge album. Like its fatalist artwork, the band looms like a behemoth on this record. The opener “Cognitive Dissonance” is huge. The track opens like a wrecking ball through a stone door. The tension builds and builds as the band bulldozes forward low, heavy, and dirty. It is a hard mosh song that is quick to bring in that death metal sound. However, once “Arsenic Earth” gets going, Terminal Nation go off the damn rails. It is with these two songs that one might realize what a leap there has been in the songwriting. Death metal, grind, hardcore, powerviolence—they have it down.
What’s more, Holocene Extinction is not only an album that is incredibly well written, juggling its genres with ease, the album is also full of surprises. More epic in scope than brief like previous releases, Terminal Nation take plenty of time to solo (e.g.: “Holocene Extinction”, “Orange Bottle Poison”), there are a lot of builds and breaks that extend beyond the punk realm, and there’s even a fully instrumental track (“Expired Utopia”). Politically opposing viewpoints of Terminal Nation might attempt to decry that they would need a “safe space” during some discourse exchange. There are no safe spaces on this record. It is hostility through and through.
Speaking of politics, it would be remiss to not discuss Holocene Extinction’s political stances. The album is leftist political discourse start to finish, and it is what gives the album a serrated edge. Based on its title alone, the album gives a send-off like the Titanic sinking into the ocean, bidding the Holocene era au revoir, and putting the Anthropocene into a stranglehold. Track titles like “Death For Profit” (a sentiment the U.S. citizens can especially relate to during these times) or “Caskets For the Poor” are practically self-explanatory, confronting capitalism and the failed state that is the U.S. Terminal Nation also takes aim at the system’s sympathizers on tracks like “Leather Envy.” Ultimately, the lyric that stands out the most is “You cannot save a world that refuses to be saved.” A bleak statement for a bleak world that rings all too true.
In a sense, unlike the political systems of today, Terminal Nation has turned over a new leaf in their sound. Holocene Extinction is above and beyond the band’s past material. Not only that, it is an album that has arrived at the perfect time in our unfortunate history. But anyone who does not like all that stuff is not going to have a good time here. Holocene Extinction is one of the heaviest, most intense albums of the year from a band that has been relentless, honest, and unapologetic from the start. And this is only the beginning.