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Nuklearth - 100%

5stringsCymru, August 26th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Unique Leader Records

German tech death bruisers Cytotoxin have been around for nearly a decade, and upon releasing their fourth album “Nuklearth”, it’s clear that the gamma rays absorbed over this time have only increased their powers.

Atomb opens the album with aggressively catchy, melodic hooks. Incredibly stylistic, it sets the bar sky high from the beginning; the tremolo picked riff into the sweeping section is the bomb! Following this impressive start, is one of the first singles we were teased with, Lupus Aurora. The song structure and passages sound purposeful, with an unwavering resolve and direction. Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into the composition. In particular, drummer Stocki’s immense talent is well and truly on display here, with flawless execution and perfect snare tone. It’s got just the right amount of punch to hit hard through the mix, without being overbearing. The weaving intricacies and harmonic flavour of the guitars sit perfectly alongside, painting a sonic picture in stunning 4k HD. Grimo’s vocals only intensify this further, with a style that oozes brutality, without compromising clarity. Next up, is Uran Breath, which is no doubt going to create absolute carnage live. The unrelenting pace and energy is perfectly suited to whip up a frenzied throng of berserk moshing. There are few moments to catch your breath, which only serve to emphasise the intensity, thus making it that much more impactful.

Dominus kicks down the tempo, with an insurmountable flex of an intro. Guitar duels between Fonzo and Jason are jaw dropping, showcasing their absolute mastery of the instruments. The mid section tempo decay is absolutely dripping with attitude, swagger, and bravado. This certainly takes you back to Cytotoxin’s roots of heavy slam style writing, yet incorporates their evolution as musicians by adding an intricate melodic line to contrast against the uncompromising brutality. Switching things up yet again, Drown In Havoc changes the game. With more thrash laden riffs and a song structure that leads with a clear melodic focus, the heaviness is imparted purely by the nature of their writing style - as opposed to it being the primary goal. The bass snarl is unmistakable during the intro to Soul Harvester, like the clanging of suspension bridge cables. Vt’s tone and playing throughout the album is superb, and this track highlights that exceptionally well. Bringing back all the bravado and swagger unleashed during Dominus, the timings and use of syncopation are super effective at building anticipation here, culminating in a neck snapping groove. Possessing an infinitely huge sound, and tons of atmosphere, Coast of Lies is the opposite of predictable. It’s anthemic guitar lead comes from left field, and is yet another jaw dropping display of musicianship, which is magnified in Quarantine Fortress, which melts your face from the outset.

The album’s final section is led by Dead Zone Anthem, which is a foreboding, atmosphere building transitional piece. It’s a great example of how bands can create original material of this nature, without the overuse of samples - a common cliche in this genre. Title track, Nuklearth, is another demonstration of the refined, restrained approach Cytotoxin have adopted on this record. It’s magnificent, and yet understated. In particular, the blistering outro, featuring lead lines over tapping parts, encapsulates the grandiose theme. Mors Temporis closes the record as the instrumental epilogue. A Geiger counter crackles over the sound of crashing waves, while a solemn piano and string section emphasizes the gravitas of the subject matter. A feeling of gut wrenching emptiness takes over. It’s not often a death metal record can hit you right in the feels, but this track evokes a sincere emotional connection, and serves as a chilling reminder of the horrors of Chernobyl.

If there was ever any doubt, Nuklearth cements Cytotoxin’s stellar musicianship, and ability to create a dynamic death metal masterpiece. A firm contender for album of the year. 10.

Charlie & Dr Claire

***originally posted to Musipedia of Metal***

***WARNING***RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL - 90%

TheNotrap, August 23rd, 2020

Finding the greatest extreme metal band of the past decade is obviously a subjective exercise. If we ask a hundred people, with a substantiated opinion, we will probably get sixty different answers. Extreme metal is essentially a musical expression of niches, being almost impossible to find generalized consensus. However, if we ask any metaller, minimally aware of what has been going on, which is the most radioactive band of the last decade, we'll get a unanimous answer: Cytotoxin. A collective whose concept revolves around Chernobyl's nuclear disaster deserves this distinctive recognition. Their radioactive thematic places the band at the top of mind of many brutal death metal listeners, more accustomed to themes related to severe sexual perversion or putrefaction of the flesh. It's true that the concept is somewhat restrictive in the long run, but if we consider these guys don't yearn to be mainstream rock stars, it looks like they hit the jackpot.

Stylistically, Cytotoxin moves through brutal technical death metal grounds, with a taste for sweep picking and dynamic vocals, a bit like Benighted's Julien. Technically, they're among the best of their kind, with all musicians being at the top of the food chain, but here technique works in benefit of the song, and not the other way around. This songwriting focus was what excited me most in their 2012 sophomore release Radiophobia, one of the best extreme metal albums of the year, also responsible for catapulting the band to the forefront of the genre. Although the following release Gammageddon delivered strong highlights, such as 'Radiatus Generis', it didn't impress me the same way. However, looking back now, maybe it was an inevitable step towards a more comprehensive approach. I wouldn't call it a transitional album, but I felt the band hadn't embraced its full potential.

Something they would fully achieve three years later.

Let me start by saying that not only do I think Nuklearth is the best album the band has ever recorded, I also feel it will become a seminal album of its kind. Not for its irreverence or originality, but for its creative maturity and engaging songwriting. A song like 'Dominus' mirrors that maturity splendidly, either through its mesmerizing lead harmony or via its radioactive riffs that swing through several tempos. The lads are at the top of their game, diving gracefully into a wider pool. The album offers overwhelming choruses as in 'Lupus Aurora', 'Uran Breath' or 'Drown in Havoc', with the latter also featuring an interesting solo, being one of the best tracks on the album. Warp drive blast beats, massive breakdowns, dazzling sweep picking, lethal riffs, you name it. Nuklearth encapsulates the band's entire radioactive recipe with amazing mastery. The inclusion of slower tracks like 'Soul Harvester' and 'Nuklearth' helps to balance the listening, with the former even serving as a resting point during the journey. Consistency and artistic direction are absolute, to the point of feeling that sometimes we are experiencing a unique composition, with twelve movements. This kind of cohesion only occurs when we're facing a force in its full artistic maturity. Opener 'Atomb', with its catchy tremolo picking, is also a good example of this sapient approach.

Just like Reign Supreme or Monolith of Inhumanity in the past decade, Nuklearth has the potential to become a reference of its kind in this new cycle. It is a testimony of a band at its peak, confident in its ability, without fear of broadening its sound. Only time will tell if it turns out to be the band's magnum opus, meanwhile, let’s all bow before the most radioactive band of 2020. After all, the Geiger counter never lies.

Originally written for www.sputnikmusic.com