Vault Hunters, I am proud to present to you a double review. Since the new Toxic Holocaust record Primal Future: 2019 was widely anticipated by myself and my colleague Max Barber, we’ve decided to team up, and both give our responses.
When hearing that Toxic Holocaust was releasing a new record, I was obviously intrigued knowing that they don’t have a bad record to their name. On one hand, the previous record Chemistry Of Consciousness was strong, but on the other hand, it was like a final blow where if the band doesn’t change the formula a bit, it may go stale. Lo and behold, their newest effort Primal Future: 2019 makes a change, and it might just stick out more than any previous disc.
Joel Grind isn’t known for stacking on melodies or any kind of traditional singing, but that’s no longer true. The song construction itself doesn’t strictly focus on a crossover-thrash backbone but rather implements longer tracks with tighter fastenings. “Cybernetic War” goes so far into this that it sounds like nothing more than a rough classic metal track. “Chemical Warlords” is one of my favorite songs due to how it places the riffs over marching-style drums before breaking into a brilliant solo.
I’ll admit that about halfway through, Primal Future: 2019 starts to feel like it’s going to dry up, but the title track prevents that with a groovy-stomp composition. The drumming during the bridge is pretty fantastic too. A spookier aura is cast with “Controlled By Fear,” another one of my favorites that helps break things up. And for those who shy away from change, there are still songs like “New World Beyond” that hold that older energy; the punk attitude, grit, and blitzing bridges. Really these songs remind me a bit of Power Trip.
There weren’t any real expectations leaning one way or another going in. But what I got coming out was enough to satisfy all cravings. No, this isn’t on the same level of An Overdose Of Death or Evil Never Dies, but it may just be next in line. If you’re open to band evolution and are itching for something a little different, this is essential listening. But even if you’re not, any thrasher could find something from this.
Final Grade: A-
For those unaware, Toxic Holocaust was one of the first bands from the early 2000s that spearheaded the thrash revival along with groups like Municipal Waste, Havok, Evile, etc. However, Toxic Holocaust took an interesting take on the genre by forging a style that was a bit more influenced by black metal, mainly in the vocals, and early incarnations of that particular genre from the early 80’s such as Mercyful Fate, Venom, Possessed, and Celtic Frost. With those influences, they forged them with the energy, fury, and aggression of punk rock and hardcore and with this sound put out quintessential albums such as their debut album Evil Never Dies and iconic thrash revival staples such as Hell On Earth and An Overdose Of Death, which many consider to be their best albums.
The last couple of albums Conjure and Command (my personal favorite), and Chemistry Of Consciousness have shown Toxic Holocaust go in a much heavier and groovier direction while still having the speed and aggression that they’re known for. They are also the albums where it actually featured a full band instead of lead vocalist and instrumentalist Joel Grind doing all the performances like on previous albums. However, on the band’s upcoming album due October 4th, 2019 on eOne, Primal Future: 2019 is a return to the format of Joel doing everything again. At first, I wasn’t sure about it upon hearing the single released “Chemical Warlords,” but upon hearing the rest, I was pleasantly surprised. It was simply based on the fact that the previous two albums were REALLY strong, and maybe having slightly high expectations for this one. However, this might be one of the most refined Toxic Holocaust albums yet.
First of all, this album is chock full of fist banging mania. Joel brought the RIFFS on this one, but in a lot of ways, this album feels like a throwback to earlier albums in terms of tone and feel. A lot of that more than likely has to do with Joel doing all the performances again, but the main upgrade is the production quality. The tones on all the instruments are retro but with a modern punch that keeps the album from sounding like a total throwback. My favorite aspect is honestly the guitar tone. It’s cutting and in your face, but totally serves the purpose and sonic qualities of the recordings/performance. The one gripe I might have is the HUGE tail of reverb on the vocals. I can admire the choice in doing so because when tastefully done, it can be beneficial. Unfortunately, there are times when I find it to be quite distracting, especially in a song like “Deafened By The Roar,” though in hindsight I can see why the choice was made for that song because the tail of the reverb sounds like a roar or a crowd. Regardless, I think some of the songs maybe would have benefited from having slightly less “Football Stadium” style reverb on the vocals. Maybe it’s just me *shrugs*.
That being said, I didn’t let that deter me from enjoying the album, because at its core is well executed. Toxic Holocaust is honestly one of those bands who can’t do much wrong simply because Joel has a very distinctive writing style cemented for the group. I can see them falling more in lines of like ‘Motorhead’ overtime where they just put out consistently good albums while having some of their landmark albums from the past to cast a shadow of their legacy; some albums being better than others of course, but definitely not a waste of time either. Primal Future: 2019 to me sounds like Toxic Holocaust, and more specifically Joel Grind, doing what they do/he does best with better production and solid meat and potatoes heavy crossover thrash riffing served alongside blackened vocals that give you exactly what you need when you need it.
New World Beyond
Final Grade: B+
Primal Future: 2019 will be released on October 4th, 2019 through eOne.