Tuesday 2 April 2024

Toxic Carnage - Praying for Demise (2024)

Country: Brazil
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 20 Mar 2024
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I do like my thrash metal and I especially like finding new bands from pivotal nations to the genre who play it and play it well. Toxic Carnage hail from the Mairinque and São Roque on the outskirts of São Paolo in the southeast of the country and, while they've been around since 2008, have only recently got round to actually releasing full length albums. Their debut was the ironically named Doomed from the Beginning in 2019 and this is their follow-up on the other side of COVID. Before these and between them, they put out a lot of singles, EPs and split releases, so it's not that they just sat around doing nothing.

The play a vicious brand of thrash metal that's right out of the old school Slayer playbook, obvious both in the vocals of Robson Dionisio and the lead guitar of Roberlei Cristiano and a few guests providing a lead guitar on individual tracks, the most known of whom is Jhon França of Cerberus Attack, who guests on guitar on Trapped in a Vortex, on vocals on Nuclear Addiction and also found the time to both produce and mix the album.

The band's general approach is to remain speedy, but songs like The Unholy Book and Trapped in a Vortex slow down a little and chug as much as they blister. However, slower is a relative term, with these slower songs still pretty fast compared to other thrash bands. It just means that they tend to reach three and a half minutes or so. The epic of the album is Pyramid of Death that's a breath under four, partly because of a longer guitar solo from guest Diogo Felix.

The faster songs rarely pass three minutes because they simply don't have any interest in hanging around in any sense. They blister through what they do and then they're done, ready to give way for the next song and the one after that. Nuclear Addiction gets right down to business and wraps up in under two minutes, a space that somehow even provides space for both a guitar solo and a bass solo. That's pretty impressive. It doesn't cut anything out that's inherently needed. It simply gets down to business immediately and gets out of the way when it's done.

The shortest song is accordingly the one that goes the fastest, because CxAxTx is a thrash number that flirts pretty outrageously with grindcore. It works nicely as a blitzkrieg of a song that's done in forty seconds or so, with a few more dedicated to purring, a sheer burst of energy in between a couple of those three and a half minute songs that chug along nicely. There's a guest here too but on vocals; he goes by Clark and he does a pretty solid grindcore job given that he's known instead for a melodic death metal band a gothic doom/death metal band. That's versatility for you.

As always with new discoveries in thrash metal, I'll pass a copy of this over to my youngest son who has become quite the connoisseur of the genre and has the good taste to take me to see Flotsam and Jetsam this week for my birthday. He doesn't always agree with me and he sometimes finds things that I don't notice too, but it's rare when either of us recommend a thrash album that the other doesn't appreciate. I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy the walk home from work with this blaring in his ears.

For my part, I prefer the fast songs like Thrashing Over Thirty and Obedience, which doesn't shock me at all. However, I really like Toxic Carnage chugging too, which is less expected. Often, if a band shift a lot between fast thrash and mid pace chug, I'm far more polarised about which songs I like the most. Here, there's not much of a gap in my estimation between those fast songs and slower ones like Pyramid of Death and Trapped in a Vortex. While Toxic Carnage don't do much that's new here, that glimpse of grindcore aside, they play at both tempos very well indeed.

Sure, they would benefit from some more originality, but they generate some serious energy, an essential for thrash, and I dig the guitar solos, especially the one by Paulo Almeida on Echoes of the Future, as well as the prominent bass, which is placed with perfection in the mix by França. I don't know who's responsible for that, because I'm seeing Dionisio variously listed as responsible for bass, rhythm guitar and vocals on this album or vocals and lead guitar, because he was only a bass player in the band in its earliest years from 2008 to 2010. I'm not sure which to trust. I like it, whoever's responsible.

Perhaps my highest recommendation is the suggestion that I left this album thinking that it's an obvious choice to pull out every now and again as a palate cleanser after listening to other albums by other bands that didn't do the business for me. I'll always know that this one does.

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