Monday, January 24, 2011

Toxin - Aphorisms EP (1989)

Toxin are one of the lesser known German bands to arrive in the 80s thrash wave, which is unfortunate, because they certainly had the chops and potential to move ahead in the game had they seen some better exposure. What I'm most impressed with is that they manage to sound somewhat unique among their countrymen, using a more distinctly American style in the pinched, often overbearing vocals, which are contributed here by several of the band members through a series of gang shouts, growls, screams and the beefy central force of Frank Ungewickel, who sounds not unlike Bob Mayo from the New England thrashers Wargasm.

Armed with versatile songs, explosive riffs and some fairly decent production, they set the stage for their tragic obscurity with the Aphorisms EP, which is easily a prescription for a neck brace through the five manic tracks. There's a sixth, "Lord of the Flies", a brief acoustic instrumental, which serves to further their variation, but it's hardly impressive or atmospheric enough to stand out among the meaty thrashers like "Dismembered Illusions", "Daily Inferno" or the title track, each loaded with angry, swerving aggression and riffs that reek of Destruction or Vendetta, only with a thicker tone. I also really enjoy "Land of Despaire", which takes on a more melodic hue, interspersed with passages of intense speed metal. "The Prophecy" is slightly weaker than the other metal tracks, but there are still a few moments of charging 80s speed guitars and capable yelling.

Aphorisms is somewhat less technical than the band's 1991 full-length, Misanthropy, and I don't think the songs are quite as good, but it compensates with a shred more blunt aggression and street character. The EP sounds quite good, the instruments clearly defined and honest; for a little known band on an even littler known label, that's saying a lot. Toxin really didn't have the same level of chops that bands like Destruction, Kreator and Sodom were laying out already, but they spend their time well here, creating a ballast that would carry the interested listener straight to the following year's album.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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