Toxic Holocaust - Conjure & Command
2011, Relapse Records
There is no doubt in my mind that Conjure & Command not only is the crowning achievement of the career of these yanks so far, but also one of the absolute top five metal record to be released this year. It's an album I've been awaiting eagerly for quite some time now. I'd previously heard the leaked track, Nowhere To Run, and was instantly blown away by the simplicity and stripped down-ness of it and I was fucking itching to listen to the rest of it. And now, finally, it's here. And, man, does it deliver. Conjure & Command seethes with truly wicked old school deathrash, bringing to mind such seminal eighties greats as Kreator, Destruction, Venom, Warfare, Sodom and Slayer.
This is what metal used to sound like in the 1980's before it morphed and split into death metal, speed metal and thrash metal. This was before anyone really gave a shit what they called their music, beyond the vague, but perfectly fine, descriptor 'metal'. This is music defined by, but not at all limited to, eighties deathrash metal, so there is never that odd sense of irony and out of place humour that often cripples bands like these. There is never the sense that the band is desperately trying to relive or re-capture some golden era of heavy metal, which is a venture that almost always fails. There is enough speed on C&C to remind one of Toxic Holocaust's earlier releases, for example in raging opener Judgement Awaits You, but also a greater mix of styles and tempos than before. The already stripped down style of their past body of work is now being eaten down to the bone, leaving only the necessary bare minimum, resulting in top notch song writing. The band delivers ten tracks of crushingly intense punk infused metal that very often reminds me of Venom, though several orders of magnitude better. And speaking of Venom; there is an apparent stylistic vocal turn towards a very Cronos-y style of deep growling coming from frontman Joel Grind, which is awesome. Not much else to say except, this is one of the very few metal albums that actually delivers everything the hype has promised.