Conjure And Command
01. Judgement Awaits You
02. Agony Of The Damned
04. Red Winter
05. Nowhere To Run
06. I Am Disease
07. In The Depths (Of Your Mind)
08. The Liars Are Burning
10. Sound The Charge
If you haven’t already, head over here and read Stefan’s incredibly insightful piece on the shifting use of bright colours in the cover artwork of metal bands. When I first saw the artwork for Conjure And Command it instantly reminded me of that article and more specifically how it bucks the trend. Whilst Toxic Holocaust‘s previous record An Overdose Of Death… was a masterclass in garish radioactive shades of green and purple, Conjure And Command swings in completely the opposite direction and goes instead for a vintage monochrome cover which wouldn’t be out of place emblazoned on Fenriz’s Band Of The Week Blog. It’s an interesting switch but more important is how much the visual change represents the shift in the music.
Conjure And Command is darker, more mature and most of all it is more authentic. Gone is a lot of the sneering punk attitude that gave us the 2 minute armageddon of ‘Wild Dogs‘, replaced by keener eye for more elaborate song structures – a progression that closely mirrors the career of Bathory. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the Blood Fire Death influence on the band is more prevalent than ever, take away the viking influences and you’re left with a huge and sprawling thrash record – which is exactly what Conjure And Command is.
Mastermind of the project, Joel Grind, is still at the forefront with his Destruction-filtered-through-Venom riffs, frosty rasping vocals and occasional scorching lead, despite the fact that this is the first Toxic Holocaust album to be recorded as a full band. The performances from Phil Gnaast (ex-Rammer) and Nikki Bellmore (Kingdom Of Sorrow) on bass and drums respectively are nothing to write home about in terms of originality, but they work perfectly for the style and as “Agony Of The Damned” slows from manic thrash into a rotten funeral dirge, it becomes apparent they are incredibly competent musicians.
But a record with only sound and competent musicians is worthless without any good songs, and I’d already expressed my doubts about the album when “Nowhere To Run” was released. Thankfully, the majority of tracks work incredibly well but especially the d-beat ridden “Bitch“, which strikes the perfect line between the older, more punk influenced style (think Disfear) and the new mature approach (think Kreator) and “The Liars Are Burning” which is so furious in its riffing that I often find myself reaching for the repeat button. However at the same time, a few tracks seem to suffer the same problems that I picked up on in “Nowhere To Run” in that they seem to get too comfortable at a very mid-paced tempo and thus get stuck in fairly mindless chugging riffs. It’s not as if the songs are unlistenable in any way, it’s just that feel a little uninspired in comparison to other tracks.
To use a strange metaphor, Toxic Holocaust are no longer the pedal-to-the-floor, Mad Max style race through an apocalyptic hellhole that they once represented. Instead Conjure And Command is the sound of a ruthless and barren irradiated wasteland — the venom is still there but it’s just a little more subtle in it’s utilization.
Toxic Holocaust’s Conjure And Command gets…