Toxic Holocaust – Conjure and Command

Posted on August 8, 2011




One-man grindcore? Most definitely. Solo black metal? One of the genre’s most enduring visages is a lone corpsepaint warrior surrounded by various instruments in the isolation cell he calls a room. But thrash metal? It’s communal. Tales abound of bands from both the old guard and the revival leaving studios in states of utter devastation after a recording session. Empty cases of shitty beer. Carpets soaked with bong water. The only objects more imposing than their Marshall stacks are the towers of greasy pizza boxes. Without a few likeminded bandmates to goad you on, without their insightful guidance of “You suck!” and “Play it faster!” recording thrash on your lonesome can get, well…pretty damn lonesome.

So it’s no surprise that – after playing everything himself for nine years – Toxic Holocaust mastermind Joel Grind took the first step to becoming a full band by drafting a drummer on his 2008 Relapse debut, An Overdose of Death…. For an act so steeped in thrash tradition, the choice yielded looser-sounding results, which, compounded with the addition of a bassist on sequel Conjure and Command, translates into, “This album sounds like it could fall apart any second and it’s much better for it.” Again, this is Joel Grind we’re talking about here, so his perfectionist streak isn’t exactly broken, but in his defense, it must be hard sharing something you’ve been in control of for so long with a pair of outsiders.

They take care of his baby just fine, though. Drummer Nikki Bellmore showers her with choice Discharge hammering on the so-simple-it’s-almost-insulting “Bitch” and tom fills between swinging, borderline cock rock on “The Liars Are Burning.” When Grind breaks the former down to wailing feedback, bassist Phil Gnaast knows the drill and brings that shit back with an on-point bass drop from back when bass drops were actually cool. Yeah, these new guys will do just fine. Just check the furious Slayer-isms on “Revelations” for proof of their positive influence. Through scorching pick workouts and an air raid solo, our mainman sounds unrestrained and absolutely unfuckwithable. The way good thrash has always, and will always, sound.

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