Upon first look at the cover for the new Toxic Holocaust album, Chemistry of Consciousness, you might be a little concerned. Not about the art itself, of course. It naturally knocks it out of the park, as Joel Grind seems to have a very good eye for good metal art. What may concern you is what it seems to suggest about what’s contained therein, as the cover’s warm colors and almost playful-looking snake suggests that Toxic Holocaust have shifted from their blistering black-thrash bludgeoning to a more humorous, playful thrash a la Municipal Waste. Not that Municipal Waste is bad at all – they’re probably the best out there right now at what they do – but it’s definitely not the kind of direction that seems fitting or likely from Joel Grind. Thankfully, the cover’s suggestions are merely a ruse; Joel Grind and the rest of Toxic Holocaust have returned to slaughter us all with another assault of furious blackened thrash, and do so to perhaps the greatest result yet.
I personally didn’t catch the Toxic Holocaust bug until their previous album, Conjure and Command. The formula used there is largely unaltered here, though there are some alterations. Conjure seemed to have a subtle Judas Priest-type vibe running through it, so that each infernal manifesto was at its base as catchy as H1N1 (especially on the almost-anthemic “Bitch”). That influence has been to a point reimagined by a more ‘80s hardcore punk vibe on songs like “Rat Eater” and “Acid Fuzz”, giving each song the same catchiness but making them sound even rawer, rowdier, and more debauched. In a sense, that punk vibe almost seems to explain and rectify the colorful cover for Chemistry, both fitting in with some of the veiled, sarcastic lampooning punk so often used, and applying it to the stereotype Grind has gotten for having dark covers.
That classic metal influence isn’t entirely gone, however. This is perhaps most evident on “Silence”, especially near the middle of it with the bridge and solo. Toxic Holocaust have a few straight up thrashers on here too, such as lead single “Out of the Fire” and opener “Awaken the Serpent”. Perhaps the one song that unifies all of these elements (in perfectly coherent way, which isn’t quite as easy as it may sound) is the finale and title track, “Chemistry of Consciousness”. On this track, Grind makes the effective decision of ending the album with its strongest track, something that couldn’t be said for Conjure and Command. That opening riff was the first I heard form the new album (in the trailer Relapse released a little while ago), and it sure as hell got me fanboying and dying for more. The amount of neck pain that song has caused me already is unfathomable and unquantifiable, and that phenomenon is bound to continue as time goes on.
The thrash revival movement, despite its well-meaning intentions, has largely, like most other subgenre explosions, become relatively saturated. Joel Grind and Toxic Holocaust were able to come to my ears right when I was getting a little uneasy with the uniformity of a lot of the new thrash I was hearing, and provided a compelling mix of originality to the movement (with their adrenaline-pumping addition of black metal to the common metal-punk hybrid) while still maintaining epidemic levels of catchiness. Those qualities are what drove me to listen and re-listen to Conjure and Command ad nauseum, and those same qualities are what make Chemistry of Consciousness such an enjoyable record. To those who’ve already had some history with TH, make damn sure you get your hands on this; to those who’ve never heard of these guys, Chemistry makes for a fantastic introduction.
ARTIST: Toxic Holocaust
TITLE: Chemistry of Consciousness
STYLE: Thrash Metal
ORIGIN: United States
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Label: Relapse Records
1. Awaken the Serpent
3. Rat Eater
4. Salvation Is Waiting
5. Out Of The Fire
6. Acid Fuzz
7. Deny The Truth
9. I Serve…
10. International Conspiracy
11. Chemistry Of Consciousness
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