Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry of Consciousness | Review

Rejoice, all ye thrash fans and revivalists. Toxic Holocaust has released a new record, and it is everything you’ve come to know (and hopefully love) about the Portland, Oregon assaulters.

Let’s not mince words; Toxic Holocaust aren’t innovators of the genre -- they aren’t redefining crossover thrash. What they bring to the table is stripped down, crust punk-like thrashiness that teeters on the edge of hardcore. Think bands like Discharge and Krömosom while maintaining the aggressive speed of Kreator. Throw in some early black metal influence (Bathory and Venom, anyone?) and you’ve got the backbone of Toxic Holocaust.

This new album, Chemistry of Consciousness, is their fifth full-length, and features some of the most stripped-down, filthy, and vicious crossover meeting black metal meeting crust punk tracks. Right from the opening track, “Awaken the Serpent”, Toxic Holocaust pulls no punches; the Swedish crust influence shines through, held together by the Bay Area thrash sound. The band leaves very little room to breathe, opting for an all-out attack instead of getting overly technical. Joel Grind’s vocals are raw and ripped, spewing lyrics like bile being expelled from the body. “Salvation is Waiting” contains darker, leaner parts from “Angel of Death” off Reign in Blood, mixing in some Haunting the Chapel-like eerie guitar sounds. The track moves from a two-step groove into a full-scale thrash jam, then segues back into the two-step breakdown. Probably the most interesting track due to the sheer brutality and assortment of influence, “Salvation is Waiting” is nearly three minutes of destruction, hell-bent on delivering driving, merciless sounds and never letting the foot off the gas pedal.

The album does tend to wane thin towards the end. Some of the tracks unfortunately bleed together (like “Deny the Truth” and “Mkultra”), leaving a dizzying feeling, quite possibly the side effect of listening to the band in high doses. However, Chemistry of Consciousness is a rage-inducing assault; an album certainly worthy to thrash out to. There’s no use weeding through the album with a fine-toothed comb; Toxic Holocaust’s attack is pretty straightforward, but sometimes, that isn’t such a bad thing.

Bill Haff

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Editor-in-Chief at Scratch the Surface, Bill Haff is a Philadelphia-based music critic who also contributes for Cvlt Nation, Metal Injection and Ghost Cult. You can follow him on Twitter at @bill_haff