The Terminals are the best rock band New Zealand has ever produced. Period. There’s heavy competition, but believe it. No group has lasted over three decades and maintained such intensity, structure and mood better than the core team of Steven Cogle and Peter Stapleton. Cogle’s voice is a quavering incantation of deep spell-casting, throwing more dirt onto already gritty guitar squalls. Stapleton’s rhythm section propels songs through lightning charges of tempo and energy. Age has only embedded the band’s mastery of deep sonic realms. The ten years between their last album, Last Days of the Sun, and the release of Antiseptic whip by in a flash when these records are played next to each other—they never disappoint, they never relent.
This latest album does mark some changes, however. Longtime guitarist Brian Crook now lives in the California desert, so Nicole Moffat has replaced him, providing violin and vocals. Mick El Borado thickens the atmosphere with his improvisational keyboard playing. A group that has stayed together so long knows instinctively where a song can go, although it is often the maverick pieces—ones that at first don’t seem to belong—that end up on the records. Their work together has become only more sagacious, and The Terminals don’t waste an intended or improvised note. This is a peerless rock album—think of another group who’ve stayed as heavy, as broke, and consistent for this long.