Conjure and Command: Toxic Holocaust

Rating: 80%

IConjure_and_commandn 2011, Toxic Holocaust released in what I would say is a Sodom style like Trash Metal album that isn’t too shabby. In fact, I think that this album is a solid release.

Joel Grind really throws out some very heavy riffs and leads. His raspy vocal style gives a bit of eeriness to the overall sound.  Phil Zeller has some decent bass lines, but the backbone really goes to Nick Bellmore on the skins.

Musically, it’s got a lot of energy and power. The song structures are very short, which is what classic Thrash Metal used to do. The entire album is less than 33 minutes long. Now, there’s isn’t anything new on this album that hasn’t already been done.  But, this a way to introduce classic and old school Thrash Metal to a new generation. Toxic Holocaust just steps up to the plate and updates this style of metal into their own, adding a dash of Speed Metal and Black Metal to the final product. That is what I really admired about this album when I first heard it.

Track listing:

No. Title Length
1. “Judgment Awaits You” 1:55
2. “Agony of the Damned” 3:59
3. “Bitch” 2:49
4. “Red Winter” 3:32
5. “Nowhere to Run” 3:46
6. “I Am Disease” 4:24
7. “In the Depths (Of Your Mind)” 2:43
8. “The Liars Are Burning” 2:54
9. “Revelations” 2:50
10. “Sound the Charge” 3:17

Blessing in Disguise: Metal Chruch

Rating: 95%

Metal_church_blessing_in_disguiseRealizing that change was needed and a new direction with the shifting of mainstream music, Metal Church foreseen the future as the high water mark of Glam Metal was on the decline and so was Thrash Metal. “Blessing in Disguise” proved to be the change needed in order to produce a solid heavy album. This is the first album with vocalist Mike Howe and guitarist John Marshall. The end result is an album that is almost flawless.

The heaviness, new vocal style, the drumming, and the bass are absolutely brilliant on this album. The opening track “Fake Healer” features all of the ingredients for the perfect Heavy Metal song. Heavy and powerful guitar riffs, fantastic leads and fills. This with some great drumming that even features the slapping of the drum sticks, a powerful bass guitar and strong, harmonizing vocals is what made this album great. The melodies within the song structure are amazing.

The rest of the album is just like that. The production is so much better on this album than the previous two records.  The song writing has greatly improved. This is one of the greatest Metal church albums that they released still to this date.

Track listing:

1. “Fake Healer” 5:55
2. “Rest in Pieces (April 15, 1912)”  6:38
3. “Of Unsound Mind” 4:44
4. “Anthem to the Estranged” 9:31
5. “Badlands” 7:21
6. “The Spell Can’t Be Broken”  6:46
7. “It’s a Secret” Instrumental 3:47
8. “Cannot Tell a Lie” 4:17
9. “The Powers That Be” Vanderhoof Wells, Vanderhoof 5:22

The Dark: Metal Church

Rating: 85%

MetalChurch-TheDarkMetal Church after their first release went back into the studio and produce a very powerful and solid follow up album, “The Dark” in 1986. Their blend of Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, and Thrash Metal mixed with elements of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal is great. This album showcases that Thrash Metal can exist in a song structure that is changing and progressing.

This album still produces these killer riffs and leads that are conducted by Kurdt Vanderhoof and Craig Wells. The screaming raspy vocal style of David Wayne sounds good. This is the last album he would stand in on for a while. Keeping the time, tempos, and beats is drummer Kirk Arrington and assisting him on bass is Duke Erickson. “Method to Your Madness” is one example where elements of Thrash is blended in with just regular Heavy Metal and the result is a sort of Power Thrash epic. The opening track “Ton of Bricks” and “The Dark” are pretty straight forward Thrash Metal. “Watch the Children Pray” is a ballad style song without following the traditional ballad structure.

Bottom line here, Metal Church sounds stronger, powerful, and energetic. Their song writing style is still developing, but, a solid second album.

Track listing:

1. “Ton of Bricks” 2:55
2. “Start the Fire” 3:55
3. “Method to Your Madness” 4:52
4. “Watch the Children Pray” 5:57
5. “Over My Dead Body” 3:36
6. “The Dark” 4:11
7. “Psycho” 3:32
8. “Line of Death” 4:42
9. “Burial at Sea” 4:58
10. “Western Alliance” 3:18

Metal Church: Metal Church

Rating: 85%

MetalchurchselftitledAP

In 1984, Metal Church released their debut self-titled album. Metal Church is one of those groups that started out and gained a decent following underground during the Thrash Metal movement. The album features vocalist David Wayne, guitarists Kurdt Vanderhoof & Craig Wells, bassist Duke Erickson, and drummer Kirk Arrington. They contributed much to the Thrash Metal scene. A nice solid album for the time. Musically, it’s filled with Thrash Metal, Speed Metal and just good ol’ Heavy Metal. It’s a decent record filled with tons of riffs and lead guitars. There’s some good drumming and bass lines. I do like their faster version of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” “Gods of Wrath” is another good song. It’s got some great vocal ranges. “Beyond the Black” throws out some very thrashy and fast riffs. “Metal Church” is another decent song. The sound is somewhat clean, although, it has that typical 1980’s sound quality. All and all, not a bad record.

Track listing:

1. “Beyond the Black” 6:23

2. “Metal Church” 5:03

3. “Merciless Onslaught” (Instrumental) 2:54

4. “Gods of Wrath” 6:41

5. “Hitman” 4:39

6. “In the Blood” 3:31

7. “(My Favorite) Nightmare” 3:12

8. “Battalions” 4:53

9. “Highway Star” 4:39

Product of Imagination: Paradox

Rating: 75%

Product_of_Imagination1987, saw the debut release of the German band Paradox, “Product of Imagination.” This proved that the Thrash Metal scene was being picking up in Europe. I remember buying the on cassette when it first came out.

Paradox is four simple men, who show the world that they can wail just as fast and heavy on their instruments, as their American counterparts. Vocalist & guitarist Charly Steinhauer sure can throw out some powerful riffs. His voice seems to be a bit higher than most Thrash Metal vocalist. Think Metal Church. Throwing out those riffs as well is guitarist Markus Spyth. Between these two, they know how to shred on those strings. The leads are very powerful. With these two, their guitars are almost the ones setting the tempo and the bass and drums are catching up. On bass is Roland Stahl. His bass sound is clearly heard. He helps to maintain those timing signatures and complex tempos and melody changes. The backbone seems to fall on the shoulders of drummer Axel Blaha.

Although, this is a Thrash Metal album with mid level tempos being pushed to the point where Speed Metal takes over, there are some very melodic sections to the song structures. The overall sound is pretty decent. I must admit, that I prefer the first side of this album. It seems to flow nicely, where as the second side seems to loose some of its lust. To be honest, it was great hearing this classic Thrash Metal again on YouTube as I lost my cassette many many years ago and never got around to looking it up on CD.

Track listing:

1. “Opening Theme” (instrumental) 1:24
2. “Paradox” 4:16
3. “Death, Screaming and Pain” 5:09
4. “Product of Imagination” 7:15
5. “Continuation of Invasion” (instrumental) 2:13
6. “Mystery” 5:05
7. “Kill That Beast” 4:27
8. “Pray to the Godz of Wrath” 4:44
9. “Beyond Space” 4:48
10. “Wotan II” 0:18

The Joke’s on You: Excel

Rating: 75%

Exceljokesonyou.jpgIn 1989, Excel released their follow up “The Joke’s On You.” It’s more or less the same formula they used on their 1987 debut. It retains some of that Hardcore Punk influence that so many Cross-over Thrash bands contained. The only difference here, is that this album was released on the eve that Grunge would take over the mainstream scene. Because of that, many people will fail to remember these guys.

Excel was up of just four musicians who knew how to write and perform some very decent Thrash Metal music. Lead vocalist Dan Clements has a similar vocal style to that of D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies. Guitarist Adam Siegel can produce some very nice riffs and leads. The bass guitar work by Shaun Ross is decent. Throwing out change up tempos and good beats is drummer Greg Saenz.

Lyrically, the vocals are almost boarder line poems mixed with a tad bit of Rap. Musically, it’s heavy with some mellow areas that help to break up the mixture of the music. There’s nothing new on this album that hasn’t been done before. Musically, it’s decent. Production wise, it’s better than their first. It’s just a great piece of history from the 1980’s that can stand among great Thrash Metal bands like Exodus and Overkill.

Track listing:

Side one
“Drive” (2:27)
“Shadow Winds” (4:17)
“Fired (You’re)” (3:16)
“Tapping into the Emotional Void” (4:20)
“Affection Blends with Resentment” (3:56)
“Seeing Insane” (3:18)

Side two
“My Thoughts” (3:19)
“I Never Denied” (5:19)
“Message in a Bottle” (2:51)
“Given Question” (3:53)
“The Stranger” (2:53)

No Place for Disgrace: Flotsam and Jetsam

Rating: 85%

Noplacefordisgrace.jpgWay back in the mid 1980’s. Heavy Metal was being dominated by Glam Metal on the airwaves. However, on the underground scene, Death Metal and Thrash Metal were thriving. Flotsam and Jetsam was no exception. Their style of Thrash Metal was on the heels of the second wave of the genre. Releasing a debut that was successful, the band minus bassist  Jason Newsted who moved over to Metallica released a very impressive follow up in 1988.

Musically, this album is well balanced by the shear vocal style of Eric A.K. The twin assault of guitars by Edward Carlson & Michael Gilbert throwing out killer riff after riff and lead solos that are perfected by harmony. You have some excellent drumming by Kelly David-Smith. The one thing that sticks out is the bass playing by Troy Gregory. It’s all over the place on this album and sticks out like a sore thumb. All of these musicians know who to make a good, pure, and classic Thrash Metal album filled with wired tempos, off beats, and killer complex melodies, that repeats the formula of their debut.

Track Listing:

“No Place for Disgrace” – 6:13
“Dreams of Death” – 5:39
“N.E. Terror” – 5:57
“Escape from Within” – 6:47
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” – 3:52 (Elton John cover)
“Hard on You” – 4:50
“I Live You Die” – 5:49
“Misguided Fortune” – 5:41
“P.A.A.B.” – 5:32
“The Jones” – 4:07 (Instrumental)