In the midst of a global pandemic and political turmoil in the United States, the arrival of Thomas Mark Anthony’s Terminal project could not have been more timely. The band’s Blacken the Skies was a rock solid debut that not only succeeded sonically, but thematically as well, delivering an absolute fusillade against the injustices and prejudices of modern society. Two years on, as the world pushes ever close to the brink, Anthony commemorates this occasion with his latest album as Terminal, The New Republic.
Bearing many of the same musical qualities that comprised Blacken the Skies, the new record finds Anthony sharpening and refining his trademarked style of industrial glam while showcasing his continued growth as a songwriter. “The Sin of the Sanctified” illustrates this well, weaving together smart programming, rocking riffs, and powerful percussion while delivering a sound denunciation of the religious right’s hypocritical obsession with gun culture. “Smart Weapons” opens with bleakly atmospheric industrial noise and only gets more grim as it goes, the synths and guitars appropriately grisly to match Anthony’s ominous baritone as he delivers an indictment of faceless extrajudicial killings and their considerable collateral damage. While both of these tracks are thematically and musically similar to much of the material on Blacken the Skies, the difference comes in the execution and details – the hooks come through stronger, the choruses bigger, and the production cleaner. This remains true for other strong tracks like “Don’t Be Taken Alive” with its chunky, chugging guitars giving it a real head-nodding rock feel, while “Fall of the Reign” uses bits of melodic piano among the beats to build a sense of tension before the big, distorted synth takes over to punctuate the chorus. Solid as those songs are, it’s the title track that might take the crown with its darkly majestic synths and pounding drums working in tandem with Anthony’s cavernous vocals to paint a vivid, chilling picture of a decaying empire that hits uncomfortably close to home here in the United States.
With The New Republic, it’s clear that Terminal has taken an audacious leap forward in realizing Thomas Mark Anthony’s musical vision. Forget the notion of a sophomore slump; Terminal delivers on its self-proclaimed “soundtrack to a world unbalanced” with stern precision. A remarkable achievement, and one that stands as one of the best of the year thus far.