It is strange to think that thrash metal as a sub-genre is now old enough that even its revivalists are turning 20. But that is precisely the case with Toxic Holocaust, who formed way back in 1999, the brainchild of Joel Grind, who wrote and recorded all the instruments on the project’s first three albums, an approach he has returned to for this long-awaited sixth album (coming as it does six years after 2013’s Chemistry of Consciousness).
In that time away, there have clearly been some changes in terms of personnel. But also a little has changed with the sound too with Grind somewhat slowing down the riffs while adding a slight injection of melody compared to previous efforts. Also, fans will no doubt be surprised that seven of the ten tracks clock in at over four minutes.
Not to say Grind has gone all prog or anything, even if there is vague sci-fi concept to the album. Far from it, as the LP provides a lot of the band’s signature blend of punk-infused thrash melded with early black metal. It is just that this time, most of the tracks are fast as opposed to lightning fast.
Grind’s predilection for wearing his influences on his sleeve still very much remains too. New World Beyond could easily be mistaken for a classic Suicidal Tendencies track while Deafened by the Roar shows that the influence of Discharge still looms large over Toxic Holocaust’s sound. Elsewhere you can hear the influence of a number of other thrash, crossover thrash, and hardcore punk bands.
Despite this reverence, most of the tracks manage to stand on their own. Plus, when the riffs are this good, it is hard to care. That said, the title track is a bit of a trudge and is a weak point in an otherwise strong set of songs. On the other end of the scale sits closer Cybernetic War, which provides the album highlight and sounds like the gloriously OTT theme tune to a lost 80s sci-fi actioner. Sure it is cheesy as all hell, but it also one of the most fun metal tracks you will hear this year.
Primal Future: 2019 is not going to impress anyone in terms of innovation, and those looking for variety won’t find much in the way of it here. But those seeking out nostalgic thrash thrills will find an excellent collection of headbanging anthems expertly crafted by a man whose pure love of the genre shines throughout.