Terrible Things – Pre-Transmission EP
Record Label: None
Release Date: December 11, 2012
It’s been a bumpy road for Terrible Things since their 2010 self-titled introductory record. Both Andy Jackson and Josh Eppard left the band. Fred Mascherino then had quite the battle to be released from his major label contract. Following all of these tumultuous events, Mascherino decided to hole up in his home studio, recording and producing Pre-Transmission by himself.
As a huge fan of Terrible Things back in 2010, I was very interested in how Mascherino would follow up. However, this EP is a mixed bag at best. The thing about Terrible Things was the wonderfully executed stark contrast between Jackson’s wail and Mascherino’s gritty, near-screaming vocal pattern, alike to his performance in Taking Back Sunday. While there’s no denying Mascherino can surely hold his ground here, the structure of the majority of these five songs is offbeat. The introductory “History” starts off with an industrial, fuzzy sound as Mascherino repeats, “Those who forget the past / Are destined to repeat it,” building confidence and momentum each time. The track is exactly what we’d expect from Terrible Things – gritty vocals and ruminating confidence – and it works quite well.
Even the brooding minute of “Confession” had me interested in what was to follow, as I was expecting the follow-up “Innocent” to continue the dark, menacing atmosphere of its first half. I thought the latter of these would provide the counterbalance to Mascherino’s chilling plea, “Pray for my soul / I can’t get to heaven” on the former. The chorus of “Innocent” instead has an upbeat, classic rock vibe to it, bolstered by traditional guitar riffs and simplistic drumming. It just doesn’t fit the atmosphere that “Confession” set up for it – it’s sun-soaked, not dark.
I had high hopes for “Last Look” once I saw Jon Simmons (of Balance and Composure) was involved with the track. However, the pacing of the track takes its toll here; the song is all over the map. Near the middle of the track, “Last Look” develops a sort of early 00’s, late ‘90s radio pop-rock feel that is just odd. When it finally picks up, it does so with great aggression and success, but it’s too little, too late, unfortunately. Moreover, for what starts off as a ballad, it lacks the poignancy Mascherino has put forth in the past (see “Can’t Be True”).
The final “Hospital” does gain the EP some ground, making me wish this is what the entire EP sounded like. When Mascherino yells, “I know it’s wrong but that’s how we did it,” in perfect unison with his angry guitar strums, I can’t help but think this is what this entire EP should have sounded like – loud and aggressive. Unfortunately, again, it’s too little, too late with Pre-Transmission. Listening to Terrible Things now, it’s a shame that confidence and sound couldn’t be harnessed here, as it was quite the impressive debut record. Here’s to hoping for more of the raw, unharnessed sound of “Hospital” on Terrible Things’ next record, because both this closer and their debut record demonstrate further potential for the band.