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Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I detest the entire "retro-thrash" movement. Fuck, I was in high school when Kreator's "Extreme Aggression" and Slayer's "Seasons in the Abyss" were released. I was an unabashed poseur-hatin' thrash kid until I discovered the alluring genres of death, black, and doom metal in the early '90s. Honestly, I don't see this current trend to re-create the glory days of thrash metal as anything but a fashion statement. Another deleterious nail in the coffin of metal. However, I have to make an exception for Toxic Holocaust, as the album "An Overdose of Death..." flat out kills.
The band on this album is a tight three-piece act fronted by main man Joel Grind, and you can tell from the first punishing riffs of "Wild Dogs" that this band is pulling no punches. Sure, old guys like me have heard these riffs before; read the lyrical content ad nauseam and seen the tough-guy posturing a thousand times -- but somehow, with this particular band, it just works. What Toxic Holocaust delivers is a thirteen song, 36 minute curb-stomper of an album. There are no bad songs to be had. Lead guitar work is minimized to occasional flourishes, as the main point of "Overdose..." is to tear your heart out and hand it to you, still quivering, then kick your corpse around the block a few times. The band creates a well-produced wall of flat-out speed -- punctuated by mosh parts that, time and again, punch you aurally in the sternum until you keel over. And Joel Grind's vocals? Whiskey-tinged growls delivered with percussive fervor. All of this is wrapped into a neat little explosive package and tied with a hateful black ribbon.
Of course, one may posit that Toxic Holocaust wears their influences on their collective sleeve (or battle jacket), but their decidedly American take on Teutonic thrash, pre-1990's Slayer, and first wave black metal is delivered with conviction and aggression. So much so that one will easily forget hearing homages to "Agent Orange", "Bathory", or "Pleasure to Kill" shamelessly churned out by Grind & Co. Forget that fact and simply concentrate on headbanging like it's 1986. Honestly, if you can't stand up and raise a two-horned hail for "Nuke the Cross", well, you need to head on back to Metal 101.
To close, they may be two decades too late with this stellar release, but that doesn't mean Toxic Holocaust doesn't deserve their day in court. They have the makings of everything I personally love about thrash metal -- attitude, aggression, precision, and irreverence. This band has a gift for bringing metal's sordid past to life, and they don't fuck around with it.
Recommended for fans of Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Slayer, Dark Angel, Bathory, Venom, Sarcofago, Slaughter, Onslaught, Hellhammer...basically all of the most extreme thrash and first-wave black metal acts. You know, "Lay down your soul to the gods Rock 'n' Roll," and all that. Also, if you dig blackened thrash metal like Bewitched (Sweden) or Destroyer 666, you'll find something you like here.
Highlights: Wild Dogs, Nuke the Cross, War is Hell, In the Name of Science, Feedback Blood and Distortion.
Toxic Holocaust have been playing thrash near on a decade, long before a resurgance in the genre's popularity was even hinted. It saddens me that Joel Grind might be hastily dashed as a poser retro-thrasher, just because every other band have a dead horse to kick. Sure this material is not at all ground breakingly original, but I can bet all the money I own you wont be hard pushed to find worse. Some pioneering influences are to be found here: Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost. Of course if you're going to play thrash why not sound like the bands mentioned? They were the genre's pioneers their side of "Reign In Blood". If familiar sounds sicken you too much, then you probably stopped listening to thrash long ago. But I can bare this, and I've heard it all. It's familiar but far from predictable.
"War is hell" is my favourite track. The riffs, the dirty vocals the lot. "War is fucking hell!" man that line is delivered so whole-heartedly I felt like I was back in the 80's, long before it was considered cool to have a disciplined delivery equivilant of a cyborg. "The lord of the wasteland" is obviously my next favourite track. That opening riff is so Venom. If I hadn't heard this song, and you told me it was some rare Venom song, you would have me believe you...well for the first ten seconds or so. Some tracks lack in memorability and merge into one another. When I was listening to "Death from above" I thought the cd was still on "Feedback blood and distortion." All in all it's a cracker, good exciting bits to be found here and there. Nice riffs and nice oldschool guitar tone. As much as it is good to listen to, it does wear off after a few hours. It would be the original material such as Venom or Bathory, that would go down with the ship, not this.
Toxic Holocaust is often highly regarded for their thrashy sound. I only heard about this band because my brother was in Best Buy checking out what small collection of thrash albums they had and some guy approached him and said "If you like 80s thrash metal then you'll like Toxic Holocaust". Well, that was a rather bold statement of this stranger.
At first I liked what I heard, so I downloaded the album. I listened to it maybe three times. I eventually deleted it and replaced it. Why? It sucked. I thought it was pretty good at first but then I decided to listen to some good modern thrash metal.
This album lacked in just about everything. The vocals mainly are the worst part. Anyone can do these vocals. I did them once... on accident because no one would have full intention to mimic the bad singing on this album. It's bland and not in any way challenging or unique. It's more of breathing out unlike with death metal or classic thrash metal bands where there's skill used. I suppose black metal vocals are trying to be pulled off here but only some singers can do it and they don't do it this way by breathing like they ran five miles without a break. The breaths are short and distorted and sound unpleasant to sum up how they are equivalent to that of a five mile run.
The guitar is very repetitive and shows no sign of change on any song. The songs are just generic, low-grade thrash playing. They excel no were and do little to impress. The guitarists are easily outplayed by almost any other guitarist. A little variety would've been nice but palm muting power chords is probably the extent of their ability. I honestly couldn't tell you if there is a single guitar solo on this album as all the songs simply mesh together and become a big blur of noise. To seem cool they basically muted the bass.
The drums are just... plain. Nothing special here and the drums are just there. It doesn't try to do anything notable and worth mentioning besides being mentioned as not mentionable, if you follow that. I guess the drums are pulling a Metallica thing where the drumming matches the guitar work but that's even difficult to say whole-heartedly as the drums seem present and thats about it.
Production quality is questionable. In this day and age where existing gets you clear production quality why would this band not use it? Trying to sound "raw" just doesn't cut it as an answer. It doesn't work and if they really wanted to sound "raw", which has no real meaning in music, they should've been born in the 60s or just done black metal just not under the name Toxic Holocaust because no black metal scene would take interest in a band with that name.
Toxic Holocaust's sound and album "An Overdose of Death..." is just shit, plain and simple sort of like their music. Their attempt at a black metal influenced modern thrash metal sound just doesn't work out. Maybe another band could pull it off as long as their name isn't Toxic Holocaust. If you are interested in modern thrash metal then you should check out bands like Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Evile, or Municipal Waste; I'm not to fond of any of those bands either but they sure beat Toxic Holocaust.
Toxic Holocaust were one of the first new wave of thrash bands which proves that they aren't just playing it because it's popular, so they definitely have my respect. I am a HUGE fan of Evil Never Dies and Hell on Earth, very solid blackened thrash. So, the first song I heard by them was quite obviously Nuke the Cross and I still to this day think it's a fucking great song. But, the first full Toxic Holocaust album I heard was Evil Never Dies and I absolutely loved it. Then, I heard Hell on Earth and thought it was another great record, at this point I thought these guys were the best new thrash band around and then... I heard the rest of this album. I still think this is a good record, don't get me wrong but it's got too many flaws for me to call it anymore than average.
I'll talk about the good things first, the songs on here are undeniably catchy. They grab your attention immediately because it seems almost every song has a catchy lyric that stands out more than the others. The songs are very short so you don't get bored quickly even though the songs are quite repetitive. The vocals are pretty awesome as well. Rocky, gravel throated black metal vocals. But, they do have a death/thrash aspect to them which makes them even more killer. The drums are good too, Donny is a very punky drummer which adds a huge punk feel to this album, something some new thrash bands lack nowadays. So basically, this album is speed, thrash, black, death and punk all added into one... sounds fucking amazing doesn't it? Not as much as you'd think. Listen to Evil never Dies if you want to hear it done amazingly.
And now for the bad. The songwriting is extremely repetitive. Each song has no more than 2 - 4 riffs and thrash is something that needs the fucking riffs! You can barely hear the bass but I don't think that mattered to Joel while recording because he already stood out on the vocals and the guitar. The lyrics are cool, I love lyrics based on anti-religion, killing, apocalypse and war but sometimes you have to mix it up a bit. If you don't quite understand take a look at the song titles. War Game, War is Hell, March from Hell. This isn't a major flaw but it is something that could be fixed. I never liked the production here either, I never knew why but Toxic Holocaust are one of the very few bands who don't sound as awesome with crystal clear production. I really missed the raw production of the first two albums. Something that also irritated me is the riff in The Lord of the Wasteland is almost the EXACT same riff as in Necromansy by Bathory. I don't know if they did it on purpose or it was a tribute of some sort since I know Joel is a huge Bathory fan and they really inspired Toxic Holocaust but hell, it annoyed me when I noticed that. Another thing that I didn't like was the re-recorded version of War is Hell. This is still one of their best songs and this version is still awesome but it definitely doesn't live up to the first version.
To sum this album up, it's thrash metal, it's black metal, it's speed metal and it's punk all blended into one genre. Though, it isn't done that well (as I said, listen to Evil Never Dies) this is still a good album just nothing over average. This album is right at the point where i'd say the album is still worth buying.
Best tracks -
Nuke the Cross
War is Hell (though the original is much better)
Weakest tracks -
In the Name of Science
March from Hell
This was one of the first thrash metal CD's I ever bought or fully listened to, and it was definitely the first "underground" thrash album I ever bought. At first sight, it looks pretty standard -- cheesy album name, lyrics that sound like a 10-year old's description of Fallout 3 etc.. And to an extent, that's all the album is -- standard.
The vocals on this album are pretty original. The blackened "singing" that Toxic Holocaust is notable for carry on in this album, and they sound even more powerful and heavy due to the better production. The guitar, bass and drums are also very well enhanced, but all this is for naught, since despite all of the great production, there is almost no creativity in this album at all. Most of the thrash riffs sound almost exactly the same, and the one or two melodic riffs aren't very catchy and just serve as filler. You won't mind while listening to the first two tracks, or maybe even first three, but after the ten minute mark you'll quickly start losing interest and try finding the better songs on the album. The album is so repetitive I can predict exactly how a song is going to go: first, a basic thrash riff, then after about 10 seconds, the vocals (which start to sound pretty annoying after a while, I might add) begin, and after that it's just the same thing for the rest of the song, then repeated in the one after it.
However, despite all the average-ness and repetition in this album, there are a few tracks that stand out and make the album decent enough to buy. "Wild Dogs", the opening track, is easily the best song on the album, "The Lord of the Wasteland" is pretty good, due to it being practically the only song with a creative riff, and "City of a Million Graves", which has a cool drum intro and catchy chorus.
In conclusion, this album is totally worth buying, especially for thrash fans, but if you didn't enjoy Toxic Holocaust's earlier material, you shouldn't get this album, since it's essentially the same thing. "An Overdose of Death..." is largely repetitive and uncreative, but a few gems in the album make it worth paying for and an enjoyable experience, as long as you skip some of the boring songs.
Toxic Holocaust, the one-man Thrash band from Oregon of nearly 10 years now, are here to deliver you a full-frontal Thrash assault on their/Joel Grind's third full length "An Overdose Of Death...", resplendent as it is in massive punk vibe and swagger of all things Metal. The key difference here between recent reviews of 'new' Thrash bands like Bonded By Blood and Gama Bomb (though Joel Grind may take cumbrance at being grouped with such bands when he's being going at it since 1999) is the colossal influence gleamed from punk gods Discharge and their 1982 classic "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing". Album opener "Wild Dogs" instantly speeds along at a gallop Discharge could well have used back in their glory days and despite the emergence of other influences as the album progresses it is this one which is the most over-riding and a good indicator of who might be interested in this band and album. "Gravelord", "The Lord Of The Wasteland" and "Feedback, Blood And Distortion", all featuring the immortally-cool d-beat reputably innovated by Discharge, and their random guitar squeals are classic Discharge, though of course lacking the brilliant nihilistic vibe I get from every listen of "Hear Nothing...".
Despite all this "An Overdose Of Death..." is not purely a Discharge rip-off and has numerous 80s Thrash influences brought to a modern age and style by Toxic Holocaust rather like their contemporaries Municipal Waste. Nuclear Assault-ian groove is aplenty in "Endless Armageddon" as well as the politically infused lyrics right across the album which Dan Lilker and co. were famous for back in the 80s. "Future Shock" kicks off in NWOBHM tones and in other instances too more than a hint of Saxon and Accept can be heard, heralding "An Overdose Of Death" as an album for the whole family - a family that of course consisted of hardcore punk, NWOBHM and Thrash fans. So none. Never mind, "City Of A Million Graves" is a proper Thrashing Thrasher and is so distinctly setting off alarm bells in my head of some old classic that I can't actually remember what it is - most likely something off "Kill 'Em All" or some old Sodom track. Either way it's all stuff you should already own so find it out for yourself!
As has been the case with nearly all the albums of the new Thrash generation I have heard, an individual identity, or lack of, is the biggest drawback, as is a production that by no means bad just don't compare to the greatness of the likes of "Hear Nothing...", "Kill 'Em All" or "Agent Orange" (Sodom). Toxic Holocaust are far from the least generic of the new generation of Thrashers, helped enormously by Joel Grind's crusty vocals, and "An Overdose Of Death..." will definitely go down as a good record but won't ever reach the status of the classics mentioned in the review. Perhaps as one of my favourite Doom bands once said, some people were just 'born too late'...
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Though rising to prominence only recently and finally signing to a decent sized label, Joel Grind and his Toxic Holocaust project have been thrashing away since 1999, with the spiralling amount of demos, EPs and splits released since being dwarfed only by the innumerable cast of touring musicians that have followed the one-man riff factory across the globe in his mission to stick 2 fingers up to the norm.
Underground purists need not fear the dreaded influence of the label on their mad-haired hero though (going from years of self-promotion to a mid-tier outfit like Relapse is I suppose comparable to an established band switching from a respectable indie label to a major) as the scuzzy, Eurothrash-meets-hardcore sound Grind has established on his sprawling discography remains undiluted on his 3rd full length CD, 'An overdose of death...'
Slight improvements in production and vocal delivery are the only hints as to any adjustments in style from the 2 CDs already rolled out. The only serious change in approach is Grind's decision to relinquish drumming duties to Donny Paycheck (usually seen with punk outfit Zeke), and it has proved a shrewd decision. Having a more specialist musician on the stool has tightened up the sound noticeably (probably also due in part to the residency of grunge super-producer Jack Endino, whose presence is otherwise thankfully not noticeable) and he offers a performance of greater flair than any of Grind's own to date with an assured display less reliant on rapid snare hits and cymbal swatting.
As has always been the case, the elements of Toxic Holocaust's style knit together perfectly to create something far greater than the sum of its parts. The scowling, blackened vocal style is a perfect medium for the crude, B-movie lyrics – with topics like nuclear annihilation, experiments gone wrong, warfare and, of course, thrashing like a maniac, all bases are covered. Similarly, the punk-influenced riffing goes beyond its simplistic origins just as it did for the classic bands like Venom and Celtic Frost that have an obvious influence on proceedings to create something both vicious and impossibly catchy.
"War is hell", actually a re-recording from the first full-length, 'Evil never dies', best exemplifies this with its outstanding main riff and mandatory chorus. The unusually structured opener "Wild dogs" also closes on an addictive sort-of-chorus in a similar style to this.
The short, brutal and brilliant "War game", at no more than a minute long is the most obviously hardcore influenced of the songs, a bit of a nod back to the slightly rawer early days of the band, while the closer "City of a million graves" is perhaps a hint at a slightly more developed future. A comparative leviathan at nearly 5 minutes long, for a regular thrash band it would be a fairly run of the mill arrangement, but is approaching prog by Toxic Holocaust standards.
With widespread distribution and a market more interested in this sort thing than it has been in years, this will likely be looked on as a giant leap forward or even some sort of 'official' debut for Joel Grind and Toxic Holocaust, but the truth is that it is more or less business as usual on 'An overdose of death...' A rock-solid, and slightly clearer-sounding continuation of the great work on the first 2 CDs, it is as good a place as any to start with this band. Just don't mistake Toxic Holocaust for some Johnny-come-lately outfit.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
Since I've been a fan of this band since before the Critical Mass demo days (going back to the splits with Oprichniki and Hellacaust), and obtained my copies of Evil Never Dies directly from Joel Grind when they came out, I was worried that the transition to Relapse Records would spoil the band.
I was pleasantly greeted, however, upon listening to this new record, with the same evil stuff that I was hooked by on the previous albums and demos. While not as devastating as Evil Never Dies (I don't think that album can be topped), the album is nonetheless equal to Hell on Earth in every respect, and has avoided the "third album woes" that plague so many bands. A little more variation in the style of riffs and some more fills in the drumming department were a welcome step as well. Thrash fiends the world over would do well to pick this up.
I know a lot of us have harbored ill will towards the Relapse camp for different reasons over the years, but it's obvious that they let Joel do his thing. Most of the riffs on the record are infectious, and the drums are hell-fueled, d-beating insanity as usual. The sound, while clear, is not the overly digital, cleanly produced garbage we've all become so familiar with over the past decade from the big labels - that's a huge plus.
The weirdest thing about this album: I bought it at the local Best Buy instead of online or from a distro. That's a really weird feeling, but a hell of a convenience.
I give a 90 rating based on my preference for past albums, but am ranking this high since it is more of the same high-quality punk thrash that I love so much from this band!
I've been a huge fan of Toxic Holocaust since "Evil Never Dies", and I've been impressed with everything I've heard from them since. I had been anticipating this release for quite some time, and it was worth the wait - this is the best thing Toxic Holocaust has done yet.
The first thing that struck me about this album is the production - it's full, thick, and beefy, as opposed to the relatively thin and tinny sound of the previous material. Not that the thinner sound didn't work for them, but this is just so much better. The guitar tone is huge and ballsy. I can actually hear bass. The vocals are less raspy, more throaty and vicious. Donny Paycheck (from Zeke) on drums really added something that the previous albums didn't have as well. Even with better production, it maintains a raw, blackened feel.
The songs are riffier and more complex, but remain pummeling and aggressive. There are cool melodies and breakdowns and change-ups going on all over the place, but everything is still straight-forward and thrashy. On past Toxic Holocaust albums, there always seemed to be a couple throw-away tracks that I usually skip. This one is much more solid... really, the only song that's not doing it for me is "Feedback Blood and Distortion".
Everything about this album is just absolutely killer. Joel really stepped it up and hit it outta the park with this one. Any doubters of the "thrash revival" movement should pick this up and have their minds changed by a face-melting nuclear blast!
I am a relatively new fan of this band so I have not heard much of their earlier material so I don’t know how this measures up to the previous two releases but what I do know is that this album totally slays.
One thing that I know improved is the drumming. On the previous albums, the drumming was incredibly simplistic because Joel was stuck as the drummer. This new guy is really solid and can easily match the speed of the riffs but also adds some nice fills.
The guitar work is as always, insane. Joel is a thrash god and knows how to create some truly awesome thrash riffs. They can be brutal and heavy but at the same time, they're also quite catchy so the riffs strike a balance between heavy and melodic.
One thing I noticed is that many of the riffs have a certain old school rock n roll feel to them. This is definitely a plus because these are usually the riffs that rock the hardest. For example the one in “Gravelord” at roughly one minute in. Another plus is that the bass is clearly heard. I can't stand bands that drown out the bass player because a lot of times, bass can be rad, like in this album for example.
The lyrics are actually quite good and my favorite would without doubt be the ones in "Wild Dogs" The album cover is totally sick and portrays some radioactive wolves. Come on! It doesn't get much more metal than that.
If you're digging the thrash revival or are a fan of old school thrash and have some extra coin on you, this album is recommended. In my opinion, it’s easily one of the best metal albums of 2008.
This album, while not being quite a "new" Toxic Holocaust, completely fufilled my expectations. Very aggressive and a more rock and roll feel give this album a new sound, but still the same Toxic Holocaust at its core. I am also glad to hear better production and more varied drum work on this release, not that there was anything wrong with these things on the previous two albums, but it gives it a much better sound.
First I will say that this album, without all of the extra shit, is absolutely amazing in both songwriting and overall riffs. While I actually enjoyed Hell on Earth more than Evil Never Dies, I must say that this album's strong tracks best almost every song on both of these albums (Save some of the classics like "666"). The lyrics are also great as they have always been, hehe.
As mentioned before, the production on this album is also a big step up from the previous two. It has much more bass added and creates some great shit for this album. The guitar sounds killer, the new drummer rips, and Joel's vocals sound more full. This is definitely a new sound while still retaining most of what made Toxic Holocaust what it is.
If you enjoy either of the previous full-lengths, I have no doubt that you will enjoy this. While I can't necessarily say that it is my favorite Toxic Holocaust album yet, I can definitely say that it is at least as good as anything Joel has done before.