What is it about straight genre bands that we love so much? We may all try to stay as objective as possible, but everybody has a favorite. Old school death metal, second wave black metal, grindcore, the list can go on and on. We all love something that we just love. It’s not the most mind-blowing thing you’ve ever heard, but we talk about it like it is. No, it doesn’t necessarily change your perspective on life, but it just feels good to engage in a little nostalgia for the things like what you first loved. Maybe not everybody is into the thing you are, but that’s why it’s great to you. You love it because it is good to you and it exists.
Toxic Holocaust is that kind of band. Straight crossover thrash is amazing when it’s done well, and that’s just what Joel Grind does. Primal Future: 2019 is just the latest example of this kind of sound though this time there’s a little twist. Grind has imagined a scene straight out of an 80s sci-fi action movie and created a futuristic techno-dystopia ruled by cyborgs with iron fists and heavy weapons. I couldn’t imagine more ripe fodder for a crossover thrash record, and the idea works perfectly. You don’t get too many crossover thrash theme records, so you have to check this stuff out when it comes around.
The music matches the subject material to a T. The whole record feels like it flashes by you at a breakneck pace. Every song just pumps with attitude, so it gives the illusion of great speed. This is actually the longest record Grind has put out under the Toxic Holocaust banner. Pretty much every song is at least 4 minutes long with a few exceptions. They really need to be to tell the stories from the world he has created. Grind lets more of black metal influences show with these longer tracks and descriptive narratives. It turns his songs into something new we haven’t really seen before and continues to show off his talents.
Grind has always created his own very unique tone with Toxic Holocaust records. Being a one-man show, he gets to dictate the direction of his work without any compromising. The phrase “a camel is a horse made by committee” comes to mind with this record: if there had been any other true creative voices in the room, Primal Future wouldn’t be what it is. Grind’s blend of influences, styles, and idea makes for some extremely fun music that makes you want to get a pit started no matter where you’re listening. Those roughly distorted guitars, driving bass, and speeding drums work up your aggression in ways you didn’t know it could be.
Before we all go to meet our 80s-stylized robotic wasteland future, there’s a nagging feeling to this record. It feels like it really flies by you, but you can’t totally remember what happened. Yes, Toxic Holocaust’s sound is quite unique, but no one track or riff or solo really stuck out. The length of the songs aren’t necessarily a detriment to the record as a whole, but they almost become a little indistinct. Crossover thrash is generally about very quick bursts of high energy such that records as a whole feel like gut sprints. By the end of the record, you can feel mentally exhausted in a very pleasant way, like the feeling of exercise after you’ve been really lazy. Primal Future gives the feeling of exhaustion after each track, so you feel completely gutted by the end of the record. Each track grinds on your brain until you’re worn down to complete bluntness. The entire experience is still enjoyable, but you’re just a little tired after the last notes fade away. It’s likely that’s what this is supposed to feel like. But it’s better than an actual rebellion against robot overlords.
Primal Future: 2019 is available Oct. 4 via eOne Heavy.