The tattered flag of traditional heavy metal has been passed around more times than a Motörhead groupie. Canada’s Traveler is one of the most recent in a string of bands to clamor up the mountain and reach for the faded, blood drenched banner in an attempt to hoist it mightily above their long haired, banging heads. Shielded in leather jackets and armed to the teeth with six string axes blazing, drums of war pounding and microphones unsheathed, Traveler executes their newest plan for metal domination with the release of their album Termination Shock.
This second album by Traveler is a follow up to their 2019 self titled debut. It continues on with the musical style set forth in their first full length album, showcasing traditional heavy metal licks and strong featured vocal presentation. High pitched, cries and shrieks reminiscent of King Diamond, and Judas Priest are littered within the album. Though Traveler’s sound is influenced to varying degrees by bands throughout the history of heavy metal, this album maintains a thick full metal sound without being overly bloated or overtly produced with a glossy finish. It still has a rough, from the gut edge to it.
From the opening drum roll to the first vocal cry, “Shaded Mirror” launches the album out of a catapult with strength and speed. This track acts a vanguard for what’s to come with the rest of the songs. Expect powerful vocals, beefy guitars and a quick rolling drums that are keystones for the genre.
Despite Traveler’s basking in the primordial pools of heavy metal tropes- rocket like slides down guitar strings, harmonized vocals, shredding guitar solos, Traveler executes all of these classic metal moves with dignity and reverence. All too often there are attempts at making new music from older genres of metal that come off as campy, insincere and cheesy. Some how Traveler has managed to incorporate all manner of arguably dated and frequently visited metal cliches with their head held high; they came out of the elemental ooze squirming onto the shore with a pretty good album.
“Diary of a Maiden” starts with a crackling thunderstorm and machine gun drums. Traveler then dives immediately onto the back of a galloping bass line and rides fast and hard on an obvious Iron Maiden homage song (hence the song title). If someone were ever looking for a less pretentious, less epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, this is a song for them.
One of the strengths of this album is That it is an accurate depiction of what Traveler is. A band. As accessibility to an over abundance of music springing forth from garages and basements everywhere via the internet, listeners are flooded with millions of listening options. Technology and computers in every hand have, in some ways, hurt music by giving so many untalented, uninspired acts a platform to get their music exposure. Precious time is often wasted listening to albums that sounds like four or five individual guys ham fistedly picking at instruments together, jockeying for position and struggling to musically keep their heads above water. Traveler is beyond that, they are not individuals, they have very much cemented themselves into a cohesive, living, breathing band. The sum of the parts is greater than that of the autonomous pieces. This can clearly be seen by the style of guitar solos. The solos still rip but serve the songs, not competing with them or stepping on them to be thrusted into the spotlight.
“Deepspace” is an excellent example of this type of guitar solo being used to lift up and enhance the music, not piggy back on it. This song is one of the faster songs on the album and at times almost warrants a “speed metal” classification. One can hear influences of Agent Steel, Anvil, and Sortilege.
With newer bands like Haunt, Traveler and Spirit Adrift on the front lines, the sound of traditional metal’s future past is in good hands. Artistically the banner of heavy metal is advancing, reaching new shores and still waving proudly about ground that has already been conquered. Termination Shock is not overly advancing the genre, but it certainly is beefing up its defenses and helping keep it alive, relevant and bountiful.
Termination Shock is a good listen. Although the song writing isn’t as fun as it was on their first album, this album is a portrait of a band maturing and improving overall but yet to reach their peak. Be sure to keep an eye out for Traveler, there are great things yet to come from them.
Out now on Cruz Del Sur Records.
- Shaded Mirror
- Termination Shock
- Diary of a Maiden
- After the Future
- Terra Exodus