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Hellish Fumes - 69%

CHAIRTHROWER, January 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Independent

L.A. thrasher Toxin is the auditory equivalent of a caustic industrial spill condensed in a shot glass; grinding, at times, utterly and mercilessly haranguing guitar riffs compounded by beastly, smashing beats, sometimes spell-binding drum solos and belching bass proceed to double over and ram the listener into a corner whilst vitriolic rasps fester throughout. The looming, overpowering level of production gives the impression of being in a rancid room where the walls are slowly closing in with no escape in sight. Aaargh!

Founded in the South Bay Los Angeles area in 2013, Toxin has steadily risen within the ranks of L.A.’s top live metal acts and released its first self-titled demo in 2016 consisting of live staples “Temple of Blood” and “Hell On Wheels” before going on tour, thus gaining exposure and a larger fan base. 2017 brought a slight line-up change and further EP, the cryptic HF which features a 1.5 minute swelling intro marked by ominous, doubly layered drum fills and a bangers n' mash bass line which make my head feel like a walnut violently shaken in its shell before three four to six minute long tracks proper take the floor, if not collapse it outright, chairs, stairs and wares withstanding.

Massively clouting and minimalist rhythms are the order of the day. Sometimes, a drum pattern will simply repeat itself as a singular guitar riff hangs in a disconcertingly gripping and hypnotic loop, such as at 03:21 of “Affliction”. At this point, I had completely forgotten about any potential guitar soloing so enamored was I by this track’s lurid lashing that I was knocked right out of my stupor twenty seconds later by a stripped down and evil, rampant twirler prior to a crashing/crushing return to crippling form. “G-Town” starts off with a rangy right-to-left sort of razor sharp shred shuffle until 0:29, when another repeating, racking riff gruffly grips the listener in place just in time for a spinning drum roll and further harried riffing to belt them full on in the jaw. Uncouth, low in the mix vocals appear and sound like they’re being shouted from the bottom of a deep and rusty disused well. The sparse leads feel equally distant but I dig the bassist’s weird, revolving monkey business and ten ton tone, with more demented drum beats in tow.

“Horror From Inside” keeps Toxin’s vile spirit alive with increased tempo changes and varying instrumentation while featuring one of the rad-est drum solos I’ve heard in a cat’s age between 02:06 and 02:19 whilst a downright grooving and slambashin’ sway-er of a riff rudely jolts up, and thus, all the way through a final and wretchedly mangled lead guitar incision until HF sordidly reaps its abrupt conclusion.

This is the thing then; Toxin’s got no set song formula or structural predilections – everything is very haphazard, bottom heavy and upended, thus keeping the listener fully on his toes from beginning to end, be it on the EP’s seventeen minutes as a whole or any one individual track. It’s severe stuff, definitely different for a somewhat conservative metal head as myself. In any case, it’s a novel and useful outlet for when feeling irate at one’s duplicitous house mates!

As well, doesn’t the austere, somewhat contradicted and disturbing cover satisfactorily convey the band’s unapologetically polluted sound? Yup, Toxin’s HF is certainly worth a gander if you ask me.