Toxic Holocaust -Primal Future: 2019 (2019)

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Toxic Holocaust is a side project for Joel Grind, with him playing all of the instruments. This level of commitment means that the artist is invested fully in the result and you can feel their presence in everything. It’s a window into their musical souls.

“Primal Future: 2019” contains 10 tracks and it flashes by in 39 minutes. It flashes by because you’re engaged with it the whole time.

“Chemical Warlords” begins the dictatorship, kicking right off with a retro inspired riff that rollicks along with urgency. Grind’s voice is rough with purpose, but easy to access. The track is predictable in its construction and the production is rough and raw – the way it should be. To sanitise this music would be a travesty indeed – it deserves to be the equivalent of a bar room brawler. A tempo shift slows things down, before speeding right back up again. This track is raucous and unpretentious.

“Black Out the Code” uploads a slightly different sound – quicker, more nimble in nature. Grind’s voice has a similar feel, like he’s skulking in the back of the room. It is a simple sound, rough and engaging, doing the simple things well. This track has a punk feel and the guitar solo is frantic, full and smooth. The track didn’t let up, thrashing all the way to the end.

“New World Beyond” has a sinister, technical opening that gathers intensity. It is a stomper, with the riff having sentient intensity. The intro is long, which is a subtle shift in character. This track is like a road trip, journey or the backing to a montage in a movie. It feels like a cautionary tale. It’s light on lyrics and the voices echo, creating an ominous feel. It abruptly ends, adding to the atmosphere.

“Deafened by the Roar” had me saying, “Pardon?” It’s aggressive in nature and it is gone in 90 seconds. It reminded me of Motörhead. The vocals begin immediately, as there’s no time to waste. There’s also and ongoing echo that builds during the track that borders on disturbing and/or annoying. This is not a bad thing – music is supposed to elicit an emotional reaction.

“Time’s Edge” doesn’t waste a second, opening with an effect like a plane screaming. The intensity of the album continues and there is some clever guitar noodling woven through the layers. It has a slightly different feel, conversational in nature. A killer wailing solo also gets air time.

“Primal Future” presents with an organic sounding opening. It’s operatic, breathing and aware. Basic guitar begins the shenanigans, which builds into a super riff that is tough, melodic and addictive as salted cashews. Grind’s vocals are slightly more gruff, augmenting the primal nature of the track – as the title suggests. A superb tempo change is used to give even more focus to a driving riff.

“Iron Cage” imprisons us in its unrestrained tempo. Lots of things were broken in our house as I pogoed around to this one! It’s frantic and encapsulating, before slowing down into a powerful tempo change, before ramping things up again. A pulsating ending wraps things up.

“Controlled by Fear” takes charge with a riff that has a melodic element. It’s an addictive romp that is well executed. The track pulls its punches long before the end, stripping back and grabbing your attention.

“Aftermath” continues the album’s hold on your attention, with a bass-heavy opening. A brilliant guitar wail sails over the top before everything pulls back down into organised chaos.

“Cybernetic War” opens the conflict with another clever riff that gallops along. It’s another subtle shift in character, without losing any of the urgency. The guitar solo has many different elements, creating a rich and technical sound. The vocals end abruptly and we are left with sounds of technological intrusion – feedback and coldly intelligent sounds as the machines take over.

The tracks across the album sound similar and use similar elements, but on more careful attention they all have their own discreet feel. Clever shifts in these elements provided me with a level of comfortable discomfort.

The premise of the album is a cybernetic war and the dystopic society that results. Grind’s vocals sound like he is hiding in a back room, a voice from the dark, careful not to be discovered, encouraging us to rise up against the machines.

With its 1980s sound and metal roots, this could be the soundtrack to one of the early “Terminator” movies. This is not a bad thing – there’s no pretence about it, just honest, retro metal.

This album is punk. It’s metal. It’s raw and rowdy. It’s savage and noisy. It’s old school. It’s also fast paced and over in a flash, all the richer for this no-nonsense, no-filler approach.

It’s also fun.

8/10

Greg Noble.

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