It’s been 20 years since Joel Grind gave birth to the speed/thrash/black metal mammoth that is Toxic Holocaust, which is incredibly good going for an underground band that doesn’t pull any proverbial punches. Even more astounding is that, with the exception of the last two albums (2011’s Conjure And Command and 2013’s Chemistry Of Consciousness), Mr. Grind has always recorded as a one-man band, responsible for everything laid down and kicking ass doing it. The two albums as a full group were great and had a full-bodied, heavier, and groovier refreshment, but it seems to me that Joel gets what he really wants when he has complete and utter control over the entire process.
So here we are, 6 years since we last heard from Toxic Holocaust, and Joel has once again taken the solo reins. The standard mash-up of aggressive styles is more prominent here than they have been for a long time, but there does seem to be a real focus on straight-up, balls-to-the-wall, traditional heavy/speed metal frameworks: simple structures; chugging, memorable riffs; headbanging infectiousness; and 50 gallons of pure passion. The black metal aspect, which is mostly seen in the vocals and some tremolo picking from time to time, is used as a tool rather than a rule, so the basic songs have room to breathe and that trad metal vibe shines like a summer day. This is not to say that the aggression is lacking in any way – the crossover/thrash tempo and feel (which is where Toxic Holocaust are most at home) is there in spades, fast whips of fresh riffage tightening the white high-tops on your feet and adorning you with a patch-infested denim jacket.
Check out the lyric video for “Chemical Warlords” here:
Grind is very competent on all the instruments, if not excessively overboard. With the galloping music on display, this is not a problem whatsoever as more would be too much, especially in the rhythm section. The guitar tone is a fat sonofabitch; in fact, I would put it right up there with my favourite guitar sounds of modern times – biting, crisp, heavy as a bag full of bowling balls, and just really, really exciting. His tone has always been a highlight of the band for me, but kudos to him on smacking this one right out the park. Hand-in-hand with this is his leadwork, and the solos are epic, flashy, and tailor-made to get the blood pumping.
Besides the highlights of “Chemical Warlords,” “New World Beyond,” and “Cybernetic War,” the album works as a thematic package from beginning to end, all the parts adding up to a satisfying whole. The cyber/futuristic concept works so goddamn well for the band and Joel knows how to write in this area – it’s just a barrel of heavy metal fun, and it’s meant to be that way.
Primal Future: 2019 (find it on Vinyl/CD/Merch, Apple Music, and Spotify) stands shoulder to shoulder with Toxic Holocaust’s best work, a futuristic joyride of fist-pumping metal. The songs stick like glue, Joel sounds like he’s having the best time in his own head again, and it’s as solid a collection of thrash as you’re going to find in 2019. If you’re looking for a good time with a fast, ripping soundtrack, look no further.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Joel Grind:
Primal Future: 2019 Track Listing:
01. Chemical Warlords
02. Black Out The Code
03. New World Beyond
04. Deafened By The Roar
05. Time's Edge
06. Primal Future
07. Iron Cage
08. Controlled By Fear
10. Cybernetic War
Run Time: 39:23 Release Date: October 4, 2019 Record Label: Entertainment One