Terminals – ‘BAPTISE’

By Ian Kenworthy

The name Terminals implies a group reaching their end, but this is the beginning. After giving us a taste with last year’s ‘Capsize/Exist’ single, they are launching themselves properly with a debut EP. Fittingly, they’ve called it ‘Baptise’ because it really is an immersive experience.

The trio’s sound is based on post-rock, using layers guitar arpeggios and effects used to create a big beautiful canvas that they combine with a soaring vocal to give it a sweeping sense of space. It’s a huge sound, similar to band like Gates but they also have a love for mixing in down-tuned guitar riffs and a filthy bass tone which gives their music a slightly harder edge. There’s a flavour of Muse at their most expansive although they’re far less gaudy, and there’s a good chance the way their sound shifts between atmospheric and crushing will appeal to Sleep Token fans despite having more of an alt-rock base.

The clanging opening to ‘Swim’ follows the pattern laid down on the ‘Capsize/Exist’ single. It favours an ethereal shimmer grounded by a pulsing guitar riff and a dirty, grinding bass tone. It’s a great song that reestablishes their sound and quickly illustrating the trio’s songwriting skills. In contrast ‘Depths’ leans on a Deftones-style detuned, twanging guitar until around the minute mark when James Whitehouse’s vocals become untethered and the whole thing lifts away into space. This allows the song to expand, breathe and eventually give way to a beautiful bridge. It’s a masterful piece, manoeuvring the different sounds and tones in a distinctive and quite striking way.

Of course, the mark of a great EP is its structure and intent and ‘Depths’ is followed by the short interlude ‘Rise’. Aimed at the hairs on the back of your neck, it gently shifts the overall atmosphere as it flows directly into the grand centrepiece ‘Big Sky’. Propelled by gentle arpeggios, the song is a huge spacious tapestry, filled by breathy, haunting synths. It’s too deliberately constructed for the word drift to fit but captures the same majestic feel of wandering loose and free. Yet, for all its epic scope, the song is never tasteless and wouldn’t be out of place in an arena.

Despite being foreshadowed on ‘Depths’, the dirty, down-tuned riffing unloaded on ‘Baptise’ comes as a surprise. The absolute filth being wrung from guitars creates a constant sense of discomfort but despite exploring a different sonic palette to the other songs, its darker tone is completely in-fitting and really adds something to the EP’s overall feel. Finally, it unleashes a massive outro, releases the tension painstakingly built up over the preceding tracks, bringing the journey to a suitably epic close.

Terminals understand that beauty depends on its context. With ‘Baptise’, they have carefully constructed an EP that paints using concepts and space but isn’t afraid of the darkness in its heart. It’s beautiful in so many ways, you can’t help but be stunned.

IAN KENWORTHY

Three more album reviews for you

Graphic Nature - ‘Who Are You When No One Is Watching?’

Northbound - 'Juniper'

LIVE: Download Festival 2024 - Sunday