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Conjure and Command (Deluxe Version)

Toxic Holocaust

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Album Review

Toxic Holocaust's fourth album, 2011's Conjure and Command, features many firsts, including a complete studio band to back up former one-man wrecking crew Joel Grind, a brand-new band logo, and cover art that no longer reflects the ‘80s thrash aesthetic of earlier efforts. And just in time, too, since this most recent thrash revival has apparently fallen out of favor as of late, and, come to think of it, Toxic Holocaust always had a few more speeds in their gearbox and musical tricks in their arsenal to begin with. Chief among those, perhaps, were Grind's crust-punk and blackened thrash influences, which are pushed to the fore here like never before, also probably in an effort to help divorce Toxic Holocaust from any of that lingering new millennium thrash stench. Whatever the goal, the ploy certainly works: scything sonic slashers like "Agony of the Dead," "Bitch," and "Sound the Charge" are part Venom, part Sodom, part Lair of the Minotaur, spanning three or four generations of dirty, nasty, "fugly" thrash within their compact, three- to four-minute outbursts, which highlight Grind's editorial gifts as a songwriter in the process. Elsewhere, standout offerings like "Nowhere to Run" and "In the Depths (Of Your Mind)" boast striking staccato riffs — both inventive and exciting — in a way that one would imagine to be virtually impossible this late in the extreme metal game. And for every purely devastating speedster like album-opener "Judgment Awaits You," there's a dread inducing slow-creeper like "I Am Disease," coming to devour you alive inch by inch. To be clear, Mr. Grind is hardly forging brand-new musical molds here, just mixing and matching the old ones more creatively than most other practitioners of the form, and thus he is tracing a course that, now more than ever, should keep Toxic Holocaust's name safe from limiting subgenre associations. In that light, the title Conjure and Command pretty much says it all, actually. [The limited deluxe edition of Conjure and Command comes with a bonus DVD featuring nine cuts recorded by Toxic Holocaust live in London on December 2, 2009.]

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Portland, OR

Genre: Metal

Years Active: '00s

Toxic Holocaust are a punk-inflected death metal band from Portland, OR, associated with Relapse Records. Influenced by hardcore punk and proto-death metal bands of the 1980s such as Discharge, Hellhammer, Bathory, Venom, and Possessed, Joel Grind founded Toxic Holocaust in 1999. He originally wrote and recorded all of the band's music himself, and after a couple demo releases (Radiation Sickness, 1999; Critical Mass, 2002), he made his official full-length album debut as Toxic Holocaust with Evil...
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Conjure and Command (Deluxe Version), Toxic Holocaust
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