Unseen Terror
Human Error

Before becoming the god-sized metal behemoth that they are now, Earache Records began as a small independent label dedicated to, as all upstanding metal labels are, rooting out the best extreme bands around. Britain’s Unseen Terror were one of the first bands signed to the label, and in 1987 Earache released their lone album, Human Error.

Featuring Heresy guitarist Mitch Dickinson and a pre-Napalm Death Shane Embury on drums, the band spot-welded hardcore punk to a flexible foundation of metallic aggression, which at the time was quite innovative. While hard music was already well into the onslaught of NWOBHM-ers, Unseen Terror focused on the speedy grind of Slayer and Repulsion while tossing in liberal helpings of Minor Threat and Black Flag for that classic punk edge.

Initially available only on vinyl and cassette, this CD reissue packs the entire original album plus six bonus cuts of pre- and post-Human Error recordings. The title track and “Oblivion Descends” show the band’s punk leanings, while the excellent “Divisions” (the same from 1990’s quintessential Grindcrusher compilation) echoes the angry, anti-racist sentiments still felt by many bands today. “Ignorant Scene” and “Uninformed” take a stand in favor of intelligence, while “Expulsion Of Wrath” and “Burned Beyond Recognition” slog through more traditional metal concepts of world war and destruction.

Just as “Hysteria” and “In A Shallow Grave” extol human selfishness and suffering, the band displays their sense of humor in the four-song “Garfield” saga – “Nermal,” “Garfield For President,” “Odie’s Revenge” and “Garfield Strikes Again” – their lyrics honoring said comic-strip cat. The first two bonus tracks are muddy demos (“Expulsion Of Wrath,” “Beyond Eternity”), both of which have more polished versions on the record. The final four tracks are 1989 rehearsal instrumentals, which show a heavier side of the band developing: thrashier riffs, more down-tuned chords, and more manic tempos.

We may not know what could’ve happened if the band would’ve recorded a second album, but since Dickinson and Embury have remained close friends and have discussed a possible reunion (according to the CD’s liner notes), the future might very well be bright for Unseen Terror.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Dan Woolley
June 23rd, 2001

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