Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Toxic Shock - Change from Reality (1988)

Nothing's shocking about this debut effort, nor is there any change from the sound of its day, and these are really the only crimes for which one can accuse it. Toxic Shock were like any other run of the mill thrash band, forming by the mid 80s while all their influences were exploding, influences that would be critical in the shaping of their sound. Uwe Dießenbacher sounds almost precisely like a more working class alternative to Kreator's Mille Petrozza, only suffering from a more goofy delivery on some of his lines, especially a few in "Left to Die" or "Burning Down Your Life". The guitars are very similar to what we were hearing from Kreator and Destruction in the surrounding years, only not managed into anything resembling a memorable song.

Thus, Change from Reality is one of those albums that spends its entire existence, some 46 minutes (not exactly short for a full-length thrash effort), just sort of hovering over any remotely good ideas. The musicians are not inept: the bass swerves and curves through the mix, while Manual Kreissig shows a wealth of dynamics in their playing, and drummer Klaus Kreissig is solid and practiced. But they never go for the throat, whether ripping through a speedster like "Forbidden Lust" or the tremendously dull bite of "Raging Speed". The majority of the tracks are played at faster speeds with forays into breakdowns where the guitars are joined by cymbals and hi-hat, but even the bands slower pacing doesn't evoke much promise. The solos are adequate but wholly unmemorable, and there's not a single catchy chorus vocal/hook found on the entire album...

So really, this is another effort that falls into the painful 'not good, but not bad' category, with nothing to even really praise or take the piss out of. Reasonable effort was placed in its construction, but the crucial riffing and vocal presence required to thrust a thrash album beyond an industry standard of complacency is lacking. Even a cover of S.O.D.'s "United Forces", placed strategically at the end of the lineup, doesn't disrupt Change from Reality from its stark mediocrity. By 1988, thrash bands who probably didn't deserve record deals were being snapped up left and right, the label owners dreaming of having the next Metallica, Megadeth or even Testament at their fingertips, and Toxic Shock seems symptomatic of such over-saturation. Amazingly, the band would score deals with Nuclear Blast and then Massacre for their two later records, both given marginally superior exposure, but Change from Reality is underwhelming enough that I must

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]

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