Terrible Claw – Sickening Annihilation

Although it sounds more like some kind of horrifying children’s book from in the 1970s, Nog and the Hospital of Death is actually the origin story of UK act Terrible Claw. Introduced to each other by a mutual bandmate in Birmingham over ten years ago, guitarist Paul Harrington (Nog, Anaal Nathrakh, Fukpig, Kroh) struck up a friendship with fellow guitarist Stuart Pendergast (H.O.D., Neanderthal), and shortly after formed Danmaku along with vocalist Mike Pilat (Bad Precedent, Collusion), releasing their debut Turn Up the Gas (Thrash Lizard) in 2011. Unfortunately, personnel problems became an issue and Danmaku disappointingly only managed to play one single show, disbanding shortly after.

Around a year ago, after the pair had been nostalgically discussing just how much they loved the late ’80s/early ’90s Death Metal scene, Harrington wrote a couple of songs and the two of them decided to take the project to the next level and record a full-length album. After briefly returning to their original name of Danmaku, it was decided this new style was too far removed from that of their old band, and so the pair chose to go under the name of Terrible Claw instead.

An unashamed veneration of classic Death Metal, Sickening Annihilation (independent, via Bandcamp) sounds like the twisted, mutant offspring born of a frantic coupling between Death and Morbid Angel, with the likes of Entombed, and the nicer, more flowery side of Napalm Death somehow contributing to its creation.

Harrington’s dry and occasionally strained feral bark is complemented by slow, grinding rhythms and bursts of furious speed, augmented by Pendergast’s melodic and nimble finger-stretching Dave Mustaine style soloing. Each song is varied and interesting, socio-political and ecological themes being featured quite heavily, with the likes of ‘Statistical Apocalypse’, ‘The Worst of all Scum’, the title track, and the complex instrumental ‘Ionosphere’ being the among the most memorable. The mid-paced, Death-esque ‘Pacification Machine’, and the pacy ‘Catastrophic Uniformity’ are two more significant highlights, both featuring fluidly performed solos and some particularly unhinged vocals not too dissimilar to those of Mille Petrozza during Kreator‘s nineties quasi-industrial phase.

A superb throwback to around twenty-five years ago, Sickening Annihilation is a tremendous, independently released debut, and with the band having recently put the finishing touches to a full line-up, one which will hopefully be followed up by more than just the one live performance.

8.0/10

GARY ALCOCK