March 26, 2014 | , | 4

Toxic Holocaust, Chemistry of Consciousness

Toxic Holocaust: Chemistry of Consciousness

I’m a big fan of what Joel Grind has been hurling about with his Toxic Holocaust project. The music he’s spewed forth over the past ten years has been single-minded and aggressive, with rarely a concern for any aesthetic or style. The violent, brash combination of thrash, punk and d-beat hardcore comes to an even more explosive head with Chemistry of Consciousness.

But first, let’s discuss the one thing that, I feel, has always dogged Grind and Toxic Holocaust. Each album that I’ve encountered from this project has always fallen victim to the every-song-sounds-the-same malady. And while, much of the material here could certainly fall into that same bucket, Grind and producer Kurt Ballou have overcome the issue for the most part with this latest full-length effort. The brevity of the album (eleven songs in under 28 minutes), a renewed energy on Grind’s part and a full, distorted production go a long way in making this album one that can be enjoyed many times over in a single sitting.

The result of Ballou’s tinkering and Grind’s forceful delivery — not to mention drummer Nikki Rage’s rampant pounding — is an album that also separates itself from the pantheon that is Toxic Holocaust’s discography. Yes, the Bay Area thrash backbone is there, but so too is a solid, caustic injection of Venom, Motorhead and even a little Slayer. The trench warfare that’s exploding from track to track isn’t the same beast that the band’s mastermind has been riding faithfully since day one. There’s something new and refreshing here that we haven’t encountered in the past ten years.

Right from the start with the rabid “Awaken the Serpent,” you know that you’re in for a full-throttle ride through the gnarliest of back alleys and the most violent of underground clubs. The song pummels and thrashes like there’s no tomorrow. “Silence” steps back a touch and settles into a malevolent, mid-tempo groove and classic riffing patterns as the guys plunder the thrash landscape unapologetically. “Rat Eater” sounds a little like Slayer at the onset as does the stellar “Salvation Is Waiting,” which by the way may be the best song on the album (tied with steam-rolling “Acid Fuzz” that is). It’s just flat out, balls-to-the-wall mayhem.

There’s just something about the material on Chemistry of Consciousness that echoes an urgency and energy that was lacking from the past couple of efforts from Toxic Holocaust. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s a difference here between delivering high-paced metal and the feeling that flies from this album at full-throttle. The band has always been able to churn out up-tempo thrashing destruction, but not with this sort of fervor. Whether Grind has had a chance to recharge or Ballou has worked his magic yet again (perhaps a combination of the two), this latest album is, hands down, some of the best stuff from this crew I’ve heard in a while. It’s violent, aggressive and just too goddamned much fun.