Toxpack - Schall und Rausch
Released by: Naplam Records
Released on: March 31st, 2017.
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Toxpack have been around since 2001, so they're not a new band by any stretch. The German band's facebook page credits Schulle with vocals, Tommi on Lead guitar, Erik on plain old regular guitar, Stephan on bass and puts a guy named Zoppel behind the kit. Their German language Wikipedia page credits them with seven full lengths, with the new Schall und Rausch standing as their eighth.
One of the strange things about running a review site is that once you've been doing it for a while you get a lot of unsolicited material. Case in point? Toxpack's Schall und Rausch album courtesy of Napalm Records. The PR material that accompanied the download touted the band's history and importance in the 'streetcore' scene. Logic would dictate that they'd have a street punk or hardcore sound then, right? But they don't. And yet they do.
This is very glossy sounding stuff, the opening track (after the quickie Intrada), Kommerz, sounding as much like Rammstein as Swingin' Utters or Cock Sparrer. Yet it's catchy. It's overproduced to a ridiculous extreme, with huge guitars and absolutely pristine, perfectly balanced production values - kind of the antithesis of the typical punk rock aesthetic. As the album moves on, Willkommen im Klub, proves to be more of the same - slick, overcooked metallic punk with some gang vocals over the chorus. It's all sung in German which makes it tough to sing along to if you don't speak the language, but the more you listen to it the catchier it gets.
Yeah fine, it's kind of corny, but tracks like Auf alte Tage and Biz zum letzten Ton will get your foot tapping whether you want it to tap or not. This is catchy stuff. Reden Lastern Lugen is kind of stereotypical, the sound on this one is pretty generic, but then Toxpack hit you with Die Letzten, die sich noch dagengen stellen, which is hard to type but easy to get wrapped up in, what with its unexpectedly emo core. Big drums, bigger guitar and just a generally huge sound conjure up images of guitar players soloing while wind machines blow their luxurious locks allowing them to strike dramatic poses. Again, not something you necessarily think of when you think of street punk (particularly when these guys typically have shaved heads or really short hair) but that's the sound that is here.
In Trummern features a guest spot from Gunnar Schroder and Stefan Ladwig from Dritte Wahl, another oddball German band, one that's been around since the nineties. This is a catchy and easy to get into track, but again, it's so overproduced that it's... weird. Komm mit mir and Wenn du willst are quick, punchy three minute tracks that have a bit more of a punk rock edge to them than most of the other songs on the record. There's a lot of energy here, but the stop/start approach gives things a strange, somewhat dated industrial sound in spots. It's a strange sound for a band that opened for Discipline in their early days and who featured Agnostic Front's Roger Miret as a gust on their third album. Tracks like Narben der Vergangenheit and Gib mir dein Geld keep things going in the same vein as the earlier tracks - catchy punk inspired playing with chorus - that make you want to sing along, while Nichts geht mehr, as glossy as it is, will have you bopping your head in time with the track.
As the album comes to a close, Unbelehrbar sees them embrace a more raw, traditional punk rock sound to nice effect. The best track on the record, it's angry and catchy but stays comfortably in the mid-tempo category, making this the closest thing on the record to a ballad (it's not a ballad at all, or maybe it is, I don't speak German - but it's definitely not as fast or punchy as the rest of the record). Alles auf Anfang has a pretty catchy vibe going for it while the closer, Profectio, ends the album
Their Facebook page notes that "The local fans were hungry for hard, danceable rock sounds and when Toxpack came to town they were down the front, singing along with every word." This kind of puts it all in context, really. Because this is danceable hard rock. If that's your thing, jump in and have fun. If it's not, you might wind up kind of confused by all of this, but to their credit Toxpack are tight and skilled musicians and the vocals are appropriately surly sounding. This is more 'metal' sounding than some of the band's earlier material but it's pretty enjoyable in its own uber Germanic way.