Toxic Holocaust - _Conjure and Command_
(Relapse, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Really? I really didn't review this? I just looked at my list of albums already reviewed and was near baffled to find that I did not mention Toxic Holocaust somewhere. What in the hell happened here? My friends certainly heard about this record as I nearly tore up couches while listening to it. Because _Conjure and Command_ was already released a few months ago via Relapse, we have a lot to catch up on. I realize it is almost 2 in the morning, but we have beers to drink and Toxic Holocaust to listen to. Take a seat.

Toxic Holocaust is listed as a thrash band but their sound goes further than simple labels. Toxic Holocaust, since the beginning has been dedicated to the space between punk rock, first wave black, speed and thrash metal. The records bring a listener to place in history where genre distinctions mattered less in favor of heavy intensity. _Conjure and Command_ is the group's fourth album and feels like the aftermath to your sixth whiskey shot. Wake up everyone in the house. There are things which need to be discussed.

Joel Grind has been, for most of Toxic Holocaust's history, sole proprietor and full time employee. It wasn't until the first Relapse sponsored record, where a session drummer was added. _Conjure and Command_ boasts a full studio band where Grind has relinquished control to two other members. Usually I enjoy he workings of one manned projects, as it allows individual creativity to flow unmediated. Grind's addition, however, has been a boon to Toxic Holocaust, as _Conjure and Command_ is the project's most sinister and most focused effort.

I do not think I would mind if people's stereotypes regarding metal rested somewhere near Toxic Holocaust. It is dark, evil, fast and uncivilized. It is everything people expect while sounding completely unchained. Toxic Holocaust's shift to a more focused direction can bee seen in the album art. While I enjoy neon rotting skulls as much as the next guy, the switch to a strict black and white template elicits proto-black sentiments. This theme is continued with a influence from other genres rather than a sole reliance on thrash. Opening up the sound to include speed and doom does nothing more than show maturity in a band which is more than ten years old.

The maturity is a commanding presence throughout the record making itself first apparent in the punk driven opener "Judgment Awaits You" followed by the doom laden crust anthem "Agony of the Dammed". Even "Bitch", which I'm pretty sure is about a hellhound, feels years older than the majority of immature thrash songs. Whatever happened to Toxic Holocaust, it has been for the better. _Conjure and Command_ should be greeted with the same reservation and latent excitement as meeting the one metalhead in class clad in skull rings, leather jackets and a face which speaks of unbridled evil.


(article published 30/9/2011)

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