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Retro-Thrash That I Don't Detest... - 91%

reclusiam, September 15th, 2011

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.