• Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry Of Consciousness

    Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry Of Consciousness
    Released by: Relapse Records
    Released on: October 29th, 2013.
    Purchase From Amazon

    ‘Self-recorded’ by Joel Grind and Nick Bellmore, the latest full length album from Portland, Oregon’s Toxic Holocaust is 2031’s Chemistry Of Consciousness and it once again finds Grind and company really effectively channeling the ghosts of thrash giants like Venom, Sodom and early Slayer while still infusing a seriously snotty punk sensibility. This is metal, let there be no doubt, but the attitude and recklessness of harder and nastier punk bands definitely runs thick with this outfit. Featuring Grind on guitar and vocals, Bellmore on drums and Phil Zeller on bass, this marks the band’s fifth full length studio album.

    Recorded GodCity Studios, mixed by Grind and Bellmore with some assistance from Converge’s Kurt Ballou and Brad Boatright at Audiosiege Engineering, this latest album doesn’t reinvent the Toxic Holocaust wheel, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it? What we have here are eleven blistering tracks of sonic destruction through some seriously heavy sounds, the kind that make you want to break things.

    The complete track listing for Chemistry Of Consciousness is:

    Awaken The Serpent / Silence / Rat Eater / Salvation Is Waiting / Out Of The Fire / Acid Fuzz /
    Deny The Truth / Mkultra / I Serve... / International Conspiracy / Chemistry Of Consciousness

    This album is fast. Very fast. Sometimes ridiculously fast. Chemistry Of Consciousness has more in common with early albums like Evil Never Dies and Hell On Earth than it does with the last disc, that’d be 2011’s Conjure And Command. Not that Conjure And Command wasn’t completely solid, it was, but this is a return to that rawer sound that the band started with.

    The album starts off with Awaken The Serpent, which is exactly 1:38 minute’s worth of pounding drums and growling vocals over consistently shredding guitars. With this track, the band basically kicks the door down and announces their return with a brick to the face. From here, Silence delivers 2:12 of anything but. The riff here is great, it’s catchy as hell and it provides a great backbone for the track to lie over top of. We get a quick little solo about half way through but this track pounds. At 3:43, Rat Eater is the longest track on the album and it’s a bit more brooding. The guitar attack doesn’t beat you in the face right away, we get some ominous cymbals crashing around and the initial riff is slower, doomier and owes more to Black Sabbath than to Slayer. About a third of the way through, that changes and the thrash is back. The track picks up the pace and the vocals come in while the drums get more and more intense and it all just builds to an insane crescendo. Definitely one of the standout tracks the album.

    Salvation Is Waiting offers up ten seconds shy of three minutes worth of blissful metal blasphemy, dark lyrics laid over top of darker music. As is always the case, the guitars are up front and fast, and you can really hear the Slayer influence here, with maybe some early Metallica working its way in as well? That’s not a bad thing. Thematically this kind of reminds of their earlier track Nuke The Cross. Out Of The Fire is also great. If this review is getting repetitive and saying everything is great, well, this album kills. This one also clocks in at just under three minutes and it almost feels like an extension of the last track, they head into one another in interesting ways (it’s important to lay tracks out in the right order on an album for reasons like this – musical flow matters, damn it!).

    Acid Fuzz marks the half way point and it offers up two and a half minutes of a more mid-tempo style, it’s got sort of a galloping rhythm to it while the growling vocals anchor things well. There’s a pretty blistering mini-solo in this track too, but never to the point where it gets irritating. The title sort of implies that this might be more of a stoner rock style with some sort of psychedelic influence, but nope, it’s pure thrash. Deny The Truth turns up the aggression meter for 2:18 but at the same time it slows things down a little bit. Not too much, of course, but to the point where you can actually understand the vocals really easily. This is just as heavy as anything else on the record though.

    As things start coming to a close, Mkultra gives us a 2:07 long blast of heaviness. As Grind sings about mind control, the instruments come close to burying him but never quite get there, the vocals stay nicely balanced here. There’s an audible element of insanity running through this track, it’s pretty rad. I Serve… is exactly two and a half minutes long and it’s a song about serving death! But Toxic Holocaust isn’t known for happy lyrics. The verses here are belted out over some great hooks and this one is surprisingly catchy. Nearing the end, we get a 2:33 track called International Conspiracy that offers up more of the same – pissed off lyrics, crunching guitars and a great heavy rhythm section. It’s not quite as layered as much of the other material here, but that’s not a bad thing. The slightly scaled back sound of it works, in fact there are a few spots where, ever so briefly, there’s nothing behind the vocals but a bass line. Last but not least, the album closes out with the title track, the second longest song on the album clocking in at 2:53. Saving the best for last, Chemistry Of Consciousness is the one of the fastest songs on the disc and it’s classic Toxic Holocaust offering up pretty much exactly what you’d want from the band.

    It’s a great way to close out what amounts to just over twenty-eight minutes of pure, unadulterated classic style thrash metal. Joel’s intent on more or less keeping Toxic Holocaust’s sound consistent throughout their career and uses side projects to experiment. So you more or less know what you’re getting into with a new Toxic Holocaust album. Chemistry Of Consciousness ranks up there with their best work.

    Check out a preview of the title track below!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      Seems like just about all the early reviews for this one are positive. I love the mentions (by you and others) of pre-thrash influences like Venom, Bathory, and Motorhead. I dug The Yellowgoat Sessions thing he did too. I have this on order and will be washing the skull tank in anticipation over the weekend.