Freakings - Toxic End - (8/10)
Published on March 6, 2017
Switzerland certainly isn’t the country I expected this style of retro, nu-thrash to stem from – especially of this quality! Usually I leave that to the Bay Area, or the south Americans. The oddly-named FreaKings (pun not achieved) already have two full-length albums of independently released toxic thrash metal under their belts. Now they’re poised to unleash their third, surprisingly still independently. Despite my review of the 2016 Tumourboy album Damaged System claiming that this sub-sub-genre is utterly irrelevant nowadays; FreaKings manage to hone the style unashamedly, and pull it off with aplomb. Of course it’s bringing nothing new to the table, but Toxic End is concise, well-executed, and most importantly, entertaining.
Let’s attend to our cliché inventory: Beer? Check; Nuclear waste? Check; Zombie apocalypse lyrics? Check; Song titles with odd abbreviations? Check (TxWxNxD); and, of course, the word ‘toxic’? Check-a-roony! The only thing missing is a piece of Ed Repka art to grace the cover. The artwork is disappointingly unimpressive, but at least it’s appropriate to the music contained within. The Swiss trio have been blessed by an awesome production quality. The drums are crisp and snappy, the guitar tone sacrifices heaviness for clarity (not a disadvantage at all!), and Jonathan Brutschin’s brutish barking successfully pushes its way through the maelstrom. He sounds just the right side of manic, and is backed up by gang-shouts that would make Anthrax blush. To help you gain a more effective judement: imagine Merciless Death’s first record, but actually listenable.
Wasting no time, FreaKings kick into “Hell On Earth”, displaying their lightning-fast strumming and breakneck velocity right from the get-go. No annoying samples from ’80s movies; no long, ambient intros; and no fucking drum solos. Just raw, unbridled, modern thrash metal done competently with flair. The majority of the album thrives on the high-speed punk rhythm, which is not a problem at all. However, the points of interest are when the drums break down to half-time, and the guitars keep pounding along like rockets. This is most notable in the chorus to “Violent Disaster”, but absolutely triumphs at the 2:40 mark – best moment on the album! It’s riffs like these that prevent me using the stop button – they utterly reek of 2005! I’m actually a little embarrassed I just referred to the mid ’00s as an era of thrash. What is this, the third wave?!
Barely any track eclipses four and a half minutes, and that’s perfectly okay. They manage to cram a surprising amount of material into very concise structures. For example, the Annihilator-esque “Friendly Fire” goes through three different riffs before the first verse, and ends on a superb breakdown, reminiscent of Toxic Holocaust’s “War Is Hell.” The crowning moment, however, must be the blistering “Price Of Freedom” – whose riffs and refrains are crammed with attitude and ferocity. Recommended for fans of Lost Society and Violator – Toxic End is brief, brash and bloody good fun! Approach with a smile and a well loosened neck.