With the arrival of “An Overdose Of Death…” in late 2008, I was introduced to the charming extremity of TOXIC HOLOCAUST and found myself addicted to their brand of old school Blackened Thrash Metal. So it was only the fan boy in me to seek out their earlier material. Their second album “Hell On Earth” is just a taste of an earlier form of one of my new addictions.
Although TOXIC HOLOCAUST hasn’t changed much from album to album, it does feel as though “Hell On Earth” is just slightly harder to swallow than their latest effort. The band Thrashes it out with the best of these newer bands (considering that Joel Grind was still a one man band on “Hell On Earth” is still somewhat awe inspiring) and although “Hell On Earth” presents listeners with a raw cut of the band – its still quite enjoyable and charming in its own extreme and violent way.
Let’s start with the good on “Hell On Earth”. It’s still that old school VENOM inspired Thrash Metal that makes me want to headbang into the early morn. Fast and furious, the band has some of the most interesting, yet Rock N Roll simplistic, riffs I’ve heard in a long time. Tons of energy just spews forth from all the instruments as they rip and tear through the 11 songs on the album. Catchy and larger than life, most of the music on the album is going to be amazing live and the energy is carried through with no low moments.
On the down side for “Hell On Earth”, the production feels like a double bladed sword that conquers and destroys the band. Although the rough and raw side of TOXIC HOLOCAUST gives the album even more of that old school Thrash vibe, the reverb on Joel’s vocals is a bit overwhelming and the drum mix tends to override everything else. On first listen it was a tough album to deal with but once you get used to its ‘feel’ then you just learn to ignore it and enjoy the music for what it is.
It might not be quite as good as TOXIC HOLOCAUST would come to be, but “Hell On Earth” is still a solid work of Thrash Metal. Fans of the genre are going to love it, rough production and all, but it’s somewhat short play time and bathroom stall recording sound prevent it from showing the band at the top of their game. It’s a great sophomore effort even if I was a tad disappointed.
Songs to check out: “Arise From The Cemetery”, “Thrashing Death”, “Ready To Fight”.
(Online February 28, 2009)