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The Quintessential Tech Death Album - 95%

antonthebassist, August 16th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Unique Leader Records

Cytotoxin was the second tech death band that I’ve heard, and the one that really got me into the genre. I’ve listened to Radiophobia right after their latest album, Gammageddon, and man was I impressed. Even after listening to other classic tech death bands this is, to me, the quintessential tech death album.

The first song, “Survival Matrix”, starts the album off with a bang. The band pulls out all the stops here and hits you with everything they got - melodic guitar shredding, insane speeds, groovy riffs, and a vocalist that I imagine the Terminator would sound like if he joined a band. Unfortunately, the fact that the first song is meant to be a showcase of everything Cytotoxin is capable of does mean that the subsequent tracks are lacking in variety a bit - which, however, does not make them any less enjoyable.

After the first four songs (of which “Ionosphere” is another big standout) we are treated to a brief interlude, “Dead Zone Walkthrough”. The spoken-word lyrics here are entirely in Russian, probably sampled from somewhere (and, knowing the band’s aesthetic, I would not be surprised if that somewhere is one of the numerous Stalker games), and, coupled with the soft acoustic guitars, serve to create an atmosphere of Chernobylian desolation.

After the interlude there are four more tracks, of which the two most notable ones are “Heirs of Downfall” and “Abysm Nucleus”. The former features some groovy breakdowns that will make you want to start a mosh pit in your bedroom, together with what is probably the most awesome pre-breakdown vocal line in metal closer to the end of the track. The latter track, “Abysm Nucleus,” is in many ways a mirror of “Survival Matrix,” and in my opinion the best song on this album. It opens with a ridiculously fast riff that progresses into a deliciously chug-full verse before dropping the tempo into yet another breakdown accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful tremolo-picked guitar - all in the first minute! The song post-breakdown is a relentless barrage of fast yet melodic riffs that just don’t let up until the very end (save for a short ambient interlude).

Before addressing the final song on the album, the atmospheric closer “Prypjat,” I’d like to discuss Cytotoxin’s bass player - being a bit of a bassist myself, I would be remiss not to mention him. Technique-wise, Vitalis Kast is absolutely on par with the other members of the band, keeping up pace with the guitar and drums using fingerstyle picking. However, he is sold short by the mix - that is, you can barely hear him at all. Cytotoxin only played with one guitarist on this album, so I don’t see a reason why Kast couldn’t have been given a bit more space to make his bass playing more audible. While this could have been a major turn-off for me (many bands that I like, such as Mudvayne, are only made enjoyable to me by the hefty bass presence), I feel like the rest of the music is awesome enough to make up for this (quite considerable) shortcoming. This is also a good point to note that the production in regard to other instruments is on point: the guitar sounds thick and crunchy, while the drums are powerful without being overpowering. The vocals also sit comfortably in the mix, making for an overall pleasant listening experience.

Finally, after making it through the album, we are treated to the instrumental track “Prypjat.” This is a slow, atmospheric keyboard piece that gives us a moment to sit back and reflect on what we have just listened to, and easing us back into the real world. As it draws to a close the song begins to break up, as if the keyboard it is played on is being melted by radiation, as a final reminder of the Chernobylian aesthetic of this band.

Pretty darn good, I must say - 82%

BloodIronBeer, February 16th, 2013

Despite not being a fan of this genre, I decided to check this band out on a friend's recommendation.

Here's the band: extremely tight, extremely fast brutal death metal in the vein of Beneath the Massacre, lots of sweeps, pig squeals and breakdowns.

My problem with these types of bands; all the emphasis is on playing as fast as possible which leaves no room for rhythm, creativity or doing anything that isn't ... playing as fast as possible.

But like I said this is a step above some of the other stuff in this otherwise unremarkable genre. This band manages to inject some actual song writing and tact into that strict formula. There is some cool leads, the lyrical theme is pretty neat (nuclear fallout) and the drummer is just crazy to listen to. Abysum Nucleus has a very evil lead to start the song. Even though I don't appreciate the pig squeals and all, there is a broad range of different vocal "textures" going on here. I wouldn't say they are different styles, because they're all growls, but he gets a huge range of sounds from his vocal cords.

The album is pretty short, full of sweeps, and non-stop leads. The pig squeals always have, and always will be annoying to me, but for the most part the vocalist is pretty impressive. The drummer is off the charts, all over the place, super fast, and mechanically precise. This album is in much better taste than many of it's contemporaries, being that there is nice use of guitar harmonics, and tasty licks to break up the non-stop bass drum and tremolo. It's generic in spots; kind of lacks personality. That said, it's still on the top of the list in this genre.

Find the Spaceballs reference! - 63%

BastardHead, December 2nd, 2012

Okay, this confuses the crap out of me. I don't usually talk about being a review mod because y'all would not be entertained by stories of me staring at my laptop for hours at a time, wondering if anybody has even so much as looked at previous reviews to know that just maybe their four line review might not be acceptable. But there is one odd phenomenon I've noticed, and that's that a lot of people like Cytotoxin's sophomore effort, Radiophobia. There's only one published here right now, but you'll have to take my word that I've had to reject at least six others for various reasons, all extraordinarily positive. This blows my mind because who the fuck are Cytotoxin? Did some famous dude I don't know pimp them out? Was some guy from Job for a Cowboy wearing their shirt in a music video? Somebody enlighten me here, these guys seemed to pop up out of nowhere with an already rabid fanbase in tow, and I can't think of a single reason why. Why not? Because they're fucking boring, that's why.

See, the thing about Cytotoxin is same thing about Cerebral Bore, it's really safe, cookie cutter BDM with an abundance of pig squeals. The big difference between those two is that Cytotoxin is faster and more technical, making them more akin to the Italian scene I love so much. But even then, everything on Radiophobia is something Hour of Penance did three times already and better, and without thirty minutes of pig squealing. I know I probably seem like the -core hating cockdouche here, but really I never got behind this vocal flourish. It's hard to inject personality into an inhaled squeal like that, no matter who you are or what language you're belching, it'll always sound like you're yelling REE REEE REEEEE and it just gets fucking old fast. A band like, I dunno, Benighted or something that utilizes the technique every once in a while is one thing, but when you use it with the same mindset that Steve Asheim uses the blast beat, you're going to be repeating yourself an awful lot. When you're playing a style as overpopulated as this, it'd be cool to help yourself stand out a bit, but this just is not the right way to do it for me.

And that's the thing, I really don't hear anything that makes Cytotoxin stand out above the rest of the bands of their ilk. Really, this could be any band on Unique Leader or Willotip's roster (aside: I didn't realize until after writing this sentence that they actually are signed to Unique Leader, so basically I'm a fucking genius), it's that exact brand of faceless tech death that so few bands really manage to break out of. If you'd put an album by Beheaded or Odious Mortem or Arkaik in the case here, I wouldn't have noticed. It's brutal, it's technical, it has sweeps and breakdowns, it's nothing approaching special, and it's for that reason that I really don't understand their relative popularity.

But with all that said, even though there's nothing even remotely original here, it's still a style worth revisiting. I can namedrop all these other bands this reminds me of because I like them all. Generic brutal tech death is a fun genre to get lost in. Smashing slams and breakdowns, blistering leads, and plaid drumming, everything you'd expect is here in spades and it's all pretty well done. Radiophobia is structured the same way that The Browning's first album is, with back to back runs of four songs + interlude, and the better songs being in the back half. "Fallout Progeny" is my favorite, with the breakdown at the end being both high tempo and punishing (my favorite kind of breakdown) and the fast tremolo riffs being ear catching and surprisingly melodic. "Abysm Nucleus" is great as well for the same reasons, but those are the only two that really stand out overall. I guess "Frontier of Perception" also has a really gnarly chugging part as well but those last two proper songs are the only two with anything that sticks when the album is done and over with. But even with that being the case it's still not a bad listen if you can stomach the complete oversaturation of the pig squeals.

Basically if you like Cerebral Bore, but could handle them going more in the technical direction than the brutal one, then Radiophobia is for you. I know I've compared them to the most accessible BDM band around a few times, but I'm still confused as to their sudden burst of popularity. The pig squealing phenomenon seems to have passed in popular music, but that doesn't stop Cytotoxin from filing nearly 70% of all vocal lines with the technique, and that's really the biggest annoyance with the album apart from the lack of originality. But really, those are two easy things to get over. I wouldn't really recommend this since there are better bands doing this same thing but better right now (the mere existence of Hour of Penance makes this band redundant), but if you're a fan of the style I don't see how this could hurt.

Also, the band photo looks like it consists of four clones, and that just makes me laugh.

Originally written for

Cytotoxin - Radiophobia - 100%

Vishaalmetal666, December 2nd, 2012

While mother nature is causing havoc all over the world, there is one quartet, possibly the most brutal one, that is already defying her assault. Cytotoxin. A technical brutal death metal band from Germany, formed just two years back that emphasizes on lyrics related to natural disasters like the Chernobyl one, for example. "Radiophobia" is their second full-length album, and the preview was released on their official channel about five months ago through youtube. That preview, mind you, took the world by storm. It sent high voltage jolts throughout my body and I was hooked on to it. People like Ed Veter also did their part in promoting their music. If just the preview was this good, what impact did the whole album have on me? Read on!

I usually suggest you to buy an album at the end of my review, but you know what? I tell you to go order it right now! Much less disappointed, you will be left with a scintillating feel in your mind.

Right, so the album begins with "Survival Matrix", and mark my words, for I have listened to a lot of music, that intro easily qualifies as one of the best starts to any album ever. It is packed with a powerful growl, extremely technical guitaring, constant, and unbelievably fast double kicks, with the best pig squeals I have ever heard. The song moves on to please you with some hypnotic riffage with those pig squeals that still make my ears bleed. Olli sounds like a dozen machine guns shot in beautiful synchrony and shoots at you with an unreal double bass drum roll. After that, Grimo showcases his insane lung capacity by doing some extremely tough pig squeals and Fonzo's technical guitaring to top the list! The end of the song begins with a magnificently well placed breakdown that turns into a brutal as hell, slam fest.

Needless to say, I couldn't wait another second to listen to the whole album! This record is perfect. Yes, the band has unanimously put in effort and excelled beyond the realms of possibility to make it this precious. Fonzo has not joined the party of random guitar wankery, although there were some crazy, ok crazy is an understatement, some "out of the world" shreds in the album, like in the song, "Abysm Nucleus". The difference is, it is done in limits, it has a tune, and it sounds endearingly brilliant. He has also chipped in with some very good death metal riffs that are hypnotic at one time and really diabolic at another. Grimo is just is "Grim"o one could ever get! While he balances growls and pig squeals quite perfectly, the pig squeals sound phenomenal in songs like, "Survival Matrix", "Ionosphere", and pretty much throughout the whole album! Ollie, on the other hand as I mentioned earlier sounds unimaginably fast. Although, this is not just a constant monotonous double kick marathon. There are a lot of variations and snare madness as well. V.T in the end, but not to be forgotten, adds to the heaviness of the album. This being a technical death metal record, I did expect a bass solo or some bass-tasty lines but I wasn't left disappointed as there was actually a tiny flash-in-a-pan bridge in "Heirs OF Downfall".

Top three songs I recommend -

This was tough, because the whole album is a top notch masterpiece!

Frontier Of Perception - I chose this song because this song is more brutal, than technical. I always love it when a band does something different from their usual style. It begins with a brutal death metal intro with some, very weird vocals to begin with. It sounded like the pig that was squealing till now, is in fact dying! I liked it, nonetheless, since it added to the insanity. It slowly rises to some crazy, catchy death metal riffage with occasional shred outbursts. Grimo does some great gutturals which then changes to a surprising, fast flurry of pig squeals, I mean how often do you hear that?! Brutality at its best.

Heirs Of Downfall - My favorite song off the album. Explaining the intro is beyond my writing ability, it is beyond impossible. If music could get any faster, it would sound bad. This is how perfectly balanced their music is. With a death metal riff one second, and a crazy shred outburst the next, this is just mesmerizing! This song also boasts of one of the fastest double bass I've ever heard. I mean, even Lord Marco is now their fan and you can only imagine! This song will jolt you with an extremely fast, although tiny, bass slapping flash and insane, intricate shreds on the lead. This my friends, can only be done by Cytotoxin. Towards the end, Grimo sounds like the death metal version of Disturbed's vocalist! This part of the album must be one of the best as it begins with a crazy slam fest that slows down gradually, maintaining the heavy sound. Its like the band has intoxicated you pretty well and youre in a trance!

Abysm Nucleus - This must be the most technical, yet brutal, intricate, beautiful, hell I could use all the positive adjectives for that intro! Shred fest, I tell you! It all of a sudden changes into a symphonic fill, very good idea and it carries the same tune. Just, magnificent musicianship. When you hear the fastest double bass, the fastest riffs, and the fastest shreds, you just have nothing more to say, other than giving a virtual standing ovation to the band.

Other deserving mentions -

Fallout Progeny
The Red Forest

To sum it all up, this was the most technical music I've ever heard. Although the preview might have suggested a hint of guitar wankery, worry not, it is as brutal, as technical it sounds! Frankly, the most brutal music I've ever heard too! Although there are some out of the world paced technical brutality, there are a lot of well structured slams and breakdowns. Very diverse song structures, more over and not filled with random shreds. This music will make you headbang till you become headless Nicholas! The riffs sound so magical throughout the album, that maybe not everyone deserves to listen to music of this level! The pedestal they're at, is sky high, and mark my words, even that is an understatement! This is a milestone in the world of death metal and an example to the rest of the bands of how to make a perfect album. Cytotoxin. Just a band of four people, or super-humans summoned by satan, to cause total debauchery in this world? You decide for they, have created history.