CD Review: “Primal Future: 2019” by Toxic Holocaust

Joel Grind’s one man thrashing project Toxic Holocaust has returned to lay waste to the band with devastating d-beat and bellicose, thrashing riffs on album six, Primal Future: 2019. Album opener “Chemical Warlords” is a vicious track that is equal parts Discharge and Carnivore. Grind harshly shrieks about a ravenous horde with the simple goal of annihilating everything in their wake. “Black Out The Code” continues the assault initiated by “Warlords,” with its pummeling drums and faster tempos. The chaotic, yet bluesy guitar lead heightens the intensity of this track. “Deafened By The Roar” is the shortest track on the record, 90 seconds of head banging hardcore and nothing less. A short burst energy to that segues in to the album’s second half. “Time’s Edge” is notable for its slicing riffs and catchy chorus over relentless percussion. The title track is a galloping mid tempo beast that feels like a cyborg unleashed on humanity. There is a nice transition towards the final third of the song that things to a battered conclusion. “Controlled By Fear” has a suppressed feeling throughout the track’s duration, which compliments the song title. This submissive attitude is broken on the following track “Aftermath” which is full on thrash with lumbering riffs and Joel’s signature gruff vocals. Album closer “Cybernetic War” is somewhat primitive and slightly disjointed, accentuating the lyrics of nuclear war. There is a haze of shock and confusion on this track with wayward sounding riffs and a creepy robotic effect at the song’s end. Humanity better shape up.

Primal Future: 2019 is 39 minutes of crossover thrash played right. The resurgence of traditional metal’s popularity has unfortunately lead to a heap of mediocre albums that fail to capture the spirit of crossover and trash. Luckily Joel Grind is back to show the new generation how it is done. There are riffs a plenty and fast paced drums, however there is a depth of complexity to it all. Crossover is noted as the intersection of hardcore and thrash. The music was fast, but not overly technical, precise yet a bit sloppy. Joel captures those elusive elements on Primal with successful results.

Fans of Toxic Holocaust will enjoy Primal Future as it is certainly worth the wait. Over half the tracks on this album are great additions to the band’s set list. Fans of thrash and crossover should also check out this album for a dose of apocalyptic headbanging fun. The future may be dim, but Toxic Holocaust provides the perfect soundtrack to mankind’s demise.

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CD review: “Death Becomes My Voice” by Ringworm

Ringworm’s eighth release, Death Becomes My Voice, continues the band’s vicious hardcore metal assault over the past three decades. The title track is a pugnacious combination of hardcore drumming and thrashing guitar riffs that grip your jugular for five minutes. HF’s harsh, maniacal vocals stand out on this track. “Carnivores” is another fast number with some brief blast beats thrown in for good measure. The song speeds up towards the final minute before guitarists Matt Sorg and Mark Witherspoon pull out a grooving riff while the track fades. The dissonant riffs and brutal drumming sounds like The Haunted meshed with Napalm Death. “Acquiesce” is an uncomfortable slower track thanks to the apocalyptic main riff and HF’s guttural vocals. The scooping riff on “Do Not Resuscitate” is reminiscent of a hook slicing in to human flesh. Drummer Ryan Steigerwald delivers the punishment on this track as it is pure Slayer worship from beginning to end. “The God Of New Flesh” is the shortest track on Voice, a chaotic assemblage of thrash, punk and grindcore. The band never falters through the constant tempo changes, keeping the listener on their toes until the song concludes. Album closer “Final Division” is a pummeling requiem that ends with a doom riff and sorrowful guitar solo.

Bands playing across extreme musical genres has occurred for roughly 35 years. Metalcore and deathcore have enjoyed varying degrees of popularity in the U.S. for roughly 15 years. Quality is the key issue, and while many bands attempt to meld genres, few succeed. Ringworm are one of those few bands and Death Becomes My Voice solidifies its status in the metal underground. The tracks on this album hit like a bat to the spine and a rusty blade to the lung. The brevity of the tracks and slight diversity makes Voice an interesting listen. There is little monotony due to stellar drumming and above average guitar work.

Fans of Ringworm should purchase Death Becomes My Voice. It is a fun, thrashing record that induces headbanging from the first track. Fans of crossover and thrash will enjoy the band’s speed and demonic guitar harmonies. Thrash ’til death.

Check out the band’s official Facebook page here:

CD Review: “Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume” by Integrity

Darkness abounds on Integrity’s ninth release, Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume. The trio conjures imagery of black magic and devilry over a serrated blend of hardcore and metal. “Blood Sermon” morphs from black metal to d-beat throughout the song’s three minute duration. Equal parts Darkthrone and Discharge, the track provides a glimpse of the album’s sound. The Slayer-esque “Hymn For The Children Of The Black Flame” is speedfest with hacksaw guitars and dissonant guitar leads. It is a short, but relentless track that packs a punch. Things come to a gloomy halt towards the middle of the record. “Serpent At The Crossroads” and “Unholy Salvation Of The Sabbatai Zevi” are slow, crunching dirges with melancholy, sinuous riffs. The classical guitar leads provide the perfect contrast to the downbeat mood on these tracks. There is a gothic beauty here, especially on “Unholy Salvation.” The band takes the swampy riffs of Autopsy and combines it with Gothenburg inspired leads. “String Up My Teeth” is a mid-tempo rocker more in tune with Motorhead or 80s rock. However, it fits on the album and has a nice bluesy solo.

Integrity take risks on Howling, which makes it a good record. Bands have mixed hardcore and metal for over 30 years now. However, Integrity take things further by blending thrash, doom, hardcore and black metal on 11 tracks. It manages to not sound disjointed and still retains a degree of complexity to it. The crunchy production is a highlight as it encapsulates the dark and menacing tone of the music. It is not muffled or tinny as the instruments blare from the stereo.

Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume, is a dark but fun record that show Integrity can hang with the young guns. Last year, Integrity’s label mates Ringworm released Snake Church, which has a sound similar to Howling. It makes one wonder if Integrity heard that record and had a creative spark, or wanted to fire back. Regardless, the band sounds great on here and has not lost its edge in its 29 year career. The music on this record is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

CD Review: “Busted, Broke & American” by M.O.D.

Method of Destruction unleash a nail bomb of hardcore rage on Busted, Broke & American. “The Final Declaration” is two minutes of vitriolic American bravado over pulverizing drums and thrashing guitars. Frontman Billy Milano has not slowed down a bit, possessing the same energy he displayed in 1985 on Stormtroopers of Death’s classic record Speak English Or Die. The obnoxious “You’re a F*cking D*ick” is a blend of punk riffs and bluesy guitar leads. It is vintage thrashcore with a modern twist. “Fight” is a frenetic number that stops and starts before settling in to a grooving midsection. The following track “Hooligan” is a blasting piece of hardcore with chorus shouts and Milano hoarsely calling out anyone brave (or foolish) enough to fight him. The short breakdown allows the listener to catch their breath before things speed up again. Of course, the album is not complete without an homage to Milano himself. “Billy Be Damned” is the little brother to “Milano Mosh.” It lacks the relentless brutality of the former, but at 53 Billy is still that angry, offensive unpredictable pitbull the metal community loves, or loves to hate. We are treated to a short instrumental with “All Out of Bubblegum” which has a fairly decent shredding guitar lead. However, things get confrontational on “Go Go Revolution” which has a nice contrast with its catchy chorus and barrage of rapid riffs. It is one of the best tracks on the record and hopefully the guys will play it live.

Busted, Broke & American is hardcore metal done right. The grizzled veterans seamlessly meld punk, thrash and traditional metal with no problems. It is no frills metal that gets the job done and moves on to the next track. However, M.O.D are not going through the motions. There is a youthful exuberance to this album and it is obvious the band had fun in the studio. The album has a political overtone as it opens with a speech by President Eisenhower and concludes with a speech by President Kennedy. People familiar with Milano’s previous work knows his political beliefs. He does not hold back and will certainly offend some people. However, provocation is certainly what metal is all about.

The band’s first album in ten years is worth the wait. M.O.D still play offensive crossover thrash like no other with ten mosh inducing tracks on here. Folks offended by Milano’s right-wing politics should probably avoid this album. However, fans and those not easily offended should enjoy it. The insults are a bit forced at times, but that does not lessen the album as a whole. Busted, Broke & American is the hardcore record to play this Independence Day week.

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CD Review: “Crossover Ministry” by Iron Reagan

Iron Reagan return with a new album, Crossover Ministry, after a three year gap. Crossover Ministry shows the band continuing to spread the good news of hardcore infused metal music. It is not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it sure is fun. “You Never Learn” is rife with manic drumming and caustic riffs that is a throwback to Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. It is 43 seconds of all out intensity that ends as quickly as it begins. The longest track on Ministry is “Dead With My Friends,” which clocks in at over 3 minutes. The haunting piano is drowned out by sludgy guitars before hurrying to catch up with the drums. There is a brief but unspectacular guitar lead that fills the track well. “Condition Evolution” is a circle-pit inducing number with its beefy midsection and minor breakdowns. “F*ck The Neighbors” has several blast beats sprinkled throughout the track to break up the laid back groove. The title track is the perfect tune for a night of partying and thrashing with your buddies. Its stop start composition stops the listener from settling into a groove, and it works. “Bleed The Fifth” is a nice slow song that provides breathing room before the onslaught of “Megachurch.” “Megachurch” is a clear tribute to Suicidal Tendencies with its nasally vocals and its subject matter on religious hypocrisy. Album closer “Twist Your Fate” is one of the more progressive tracks on this record with its technical riffing. It ends the record with a headbang.

Crossover Ministry is a solid lesson crossover thrash metal. Iron Reagan’s members are veterans in the thrash scene, playing in groups like Cannabis Corpse, Darkest House and Municipal Waste. The band also wears its influences on its sleeve. When you listen to this record you hear Stormtroopers of Death, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles and Cryptic Slaughter. The speed, groove and punk inspired drumming are all present. As stated earlier, the band is not treading new ground. However, it does not have to because its refining an older sub-genre. The production is clear with the guitars and drumming blasting from the speakers.

Thrashers both old and young will appreciate Crossover Ministry. It is 18 tracks and 30 minutes of spastic but precise thrashcore that should satisfy anyone’s speed fix. The band certainly spreads the good news on this album, and we can be thankful for that.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website:

CD Review: “Snake Church” by Ringworm

Cleveland hardcore-metal outfit Ringworm spread the crossover gospel on its eighth record, Snake Church. The title track fires like shrapnel in the air piercing all in its path. The rollicking guitar riffs and hardcore drumming are relentless as vocalist HF belts out occult lyrics that would make Venom’s Cronos raise his chalice. “The Brotherhood Of The Midnight Sun” continues the satanic punk assault. The track is a solid meld of gothic riffing and hardcore speed that could wake the dead. Then there is the one two punch of “The Black Light Of A Living Ghost” and “Destroy Or Create.” These tracks clock in at less than two minutes and are sprinkled with some nice leads and riffs. The eerie spiraling guitar chords on “The Apparition” sound like several evil spirits chasing you in the forest in the dead of night.

Without question, Ringworm are all about speed on Snake Church. The band’s technical prowess is on display, however it does not overshadow the group’s aggression and pugnacious attitude. This mars Snake Church at times as some songs can grow a bit generic. However, the record is diverse enough that it is not a major hindrance. The quintet are solid musicians and are not afraid to throw out a complex time change or flashy guitar solo. The production is good and has a vintage 80s feel to it. It is neither murky or over polished and complements the gritty content on the record.

Snake Church is a charmer. The thrash meets hardcore sound will satisfy fans of Goatwhore, Toxic Holocaust and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. Ringworm keep things interesting but terse which keeps the album from sounding stale. Snake Church is crossover thrash in all its unholy glory.

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CD Review: ‘Voice of Rebellion’ by Pro-Pain

Pro-Pain’s newest release, The Voice of Rebellion, is the band’s 15th release in its 24 year history. The title track is a hard-edged slab of hardcore aggression. The track’s chunky groove is signature Pro-Pain while guitarist Adam Phillips throws out a nice lead to keep things interesting. Frontman Gary Meskill sends out a stern warning on “No Fly Zone” to anyone that steps to him. The ambulance sample and uplifting lyrics compliment the rigidity of the music. The battering “Righteous Annihilation” is a frenzied riff-fest with manic drumming giving a feeling of speeding down a crowded hill. The band shows its hardcore roots on “Take it to the Grave,” which is a straight does of fast-paced hardcore punk. “Age of Disgust” is a three minute breakdown with crushing double bass and a constricted rhythm that explodes in the middle. There is also the venomous “Blade of the Cursed” with its sweeping guitar riffs and unorthodox song structure.

The songwriting on Voice of Rebellion surpasses the band’s previous release, The Final Revolution. The songs are not conventional hardcore, with chugging riffs and the expected breakdowns. While breakdowns and chugging riffs are present, the songs twist and turn with solos and complex drumming. Pro-Pain is often overlooked and generalized for releasing the same record, but it is untrue and unfortunate. Voice of Rebellion is an amalgam of punk, hardcore and thrash with superb musicianship.

The production on Voice of Rebellion is thick thanks to Corey Williams and Gary Meskill himself. There is no clipping on this record nor do the instruments drown out the other. Meskill’s vitriolic vocals are mixed fine while the leads are properly laid over rhythm guitar and bass. The record reminded me of Terry Date’s work with Pantera and Prong in the 90s.

Voice of Rebellion is a solid Pro-Pain album. The songs are great and rarely monotonous with several tracks that standout. Fans of the band and those unfamiliar with this group should buy the album. The rebellion cannot be quelled.

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CD Review: ‘The American Dream Died’ by Agnostic Front

It has been 4 long years, but legendary hardcore band Agnostic Front is back with The American Dream Died. The band wastes no time voicing its disgust of government corruption. Vocalist Roger Miret gives a scathing commentary on the title track, covering everything from multinational corporations to American imperialism. Musically, the band thrashes along like it is 1985. Things heat up on “Police Violence,” which is a condemnation on police brutality. The song does not explicitly mention the deaths of Michael Brown or Eric Garner, however, it is not a stretch to state that this song is based on these incidents among others. Agnostic Front has always generated controversy, but the band must be commended for not avoiding touchy topics like police brutality and racism. The band does not let up on the pummeling “Only in America,” which criticizes the treatment of veterans in the U.S. Roger belts out “Land of the free/home of the brave/they fought for freedom/but now they’re treated just like slaves.” The band still stresses the importance of unity and staying strong. The hardcore boogie “We Walk the Line” is as uplifting as it is tough. “Never Walk Alone” is a tribute to the hardcore life and the band itself. It would not be an Agnostic Front album without a track dedicated to the hardcore scene right?

The production is top notch thanks to Freddy Cricien of Madball behind the helm. The sound is crisp and no instrument drowns out the other. Vinnie’s Stigma’s guitar riffs are clear as a bell while Pokey Mo’s drumming punches through the speakers. There is no muffling or compression, which is a major positive.

Agnostic Front show no signs of slowing down after 30 plus years in. So long as life is hard and injustice present, Roger Miret and the guys will have something to say. The American Dream Died is a straight up unapologetic hardcore record. New York’s finest has done it again.

For information regarding upcoming tour dates check out the band’s website: