Saturday, January 17, 2009

Toxic Holocaust - An Overdose of Death (2008)

What do you get when you mix punk rock roots, thrash sensibilites, and blackened vocals? I'm sure that our beloved editor could come up with both a good punchline and a laundry list of bands, but in this case, the answer is Portland's Toxic Holocaust. Joel Grind has been paying a frenzied homage to each of those sounds for the past decade, each release bringing ever more heshers and punks to party under his Geiger-breaking banner.

An Overdose of Death starts off with a riff that reminded me immediately of Minor Threat's "Straight Edge", which of course made me throw my hands up into claws of joy. "Wild Dogs" is a great song, and a fantastic way to open the album. "Nuke the Cross" follows - the lyrics are just as amazing as the title - and takes things up a notch. Other standout tracks include "Gravelord" and "Feedback, Blood, and Distortion." Sprinkled throughout the album are short and sweet guitar leads that remind me of Discharge. The d-beat overlords would be pleased.

This album was the first Toxic Holocaust released with Relapse Records, and it shows. The drumming duties have been doled out to Donny Paycheck of Zeke, the vocals are less raw sounding than earlier releases, and we get rewarded with a more slick presentation altogether. Donny tightens things up a bit, relies on the same beats far less, and adds more creative fills to my great delight. The vocals I could go either way on, but they fit the more polished production well. This is an excellent album, and a must-listen for all thrashers, punks, and everyone inbetween.

Verdict: Epic Win [9/10] (God can't defend this strike, Now's his time to die)


frank austin said...

I would be remiss not to throw in a note about Toxic Holocaust's live show - it is excellent. I left Slim's in San Francisco last week with an already sore neck that would slowly progress to the worst bangover I've had since At The Gates, and a huge grin on my face. Toxic Holocaust was my first show of 2009. After only seeing one live show (Watain) in 2008, I decided that I needed to see more about five minutes into Toxic Holocaust's set. My only disappointment was that he didn't do his Bathory cover, which feels right at home in the middle of his other songs.

is this your life? said...

How would you compare the earlier albums? You make it sound like they're a bit more raw - worth checking out?

frank austin said...

Most definitely. I like Evil Never Dies a bit more, it's all more of the same, just a bit more raw and with less interesting drumming.

Sorry that this review is so terse, everybody. It was the first time I tried writing one at work, where I wasn't listening to the thing at the time I wrote it. It worked against me.