Toxic Trace - Torment 3.5/5
2. Witch from hell
4. Religion is slavery
7. Against the cross
8. The antichrist
9. Flag of hate
Oftentimes a cover version found as the last song on a CD will stand out like a sore thumb, either ending things with a bit of mirth or in less fortunate cases disrupting the flow of the music completely at the last hurdle. It thus is almost unthinkable for such an artistic choice to end being up being the cap that completely confirms beyond all reasonable doubt the very definition of a band’s style.
‘Torment’, the debut from Toxic Trace, is one such aberration, as the version of the Kreator classic “Flag of hate” that ends the CD is so completely in line with the 8 songs that precede it that you could forgive a naïve newcomer for not even noticing the transition from original to tribute material.
That is just how much these Serb thrashers love the chaotic early period in the career of Mille and co, and while their first offering is obviously very short on originality it certainly makes up for it with a payload of violent enthusiasm.
Among the recent explosion of newly-formed, label-backed thrash bands that seems to be calming down somewhat of late, the rawer Teutonic style has been largely left on the back burner in comparison to the ever-more popular Bay Area approach, so while what Toxic Trace are up to is nothing new at least it isn’t immediately stifled by the blight of over-familiarity.
While the 80s German sound is front-and-centre for all to hear, listening back to your old records will yield differences that are not immediately so obvious without direct comparison. What Toxic Trace have bottled on ‘Torment’ is essentially the essence of early Kreator – the cascading riffs, hell-for-leather beats and scathing vocals (more Mille than Ventor) – while, intentionally or not, shearing away the subtler intricacies. With far less slowed-down (in relative terms) breaks in play, the CD is essentially an angry barrage of riffs from start to finish, less focused on individual songs than bludgeoning the listener into submission with a wall of ferocious sound.
Detractors of the band and indeed all derivative modern thrash would no doubt accuse them of completely missing the point, while Toxic Trace would of course turn the allegation on its head - whether it’s a lunk-headed copy or a streamlined interpretation of a classic approach will come down to individual taste, but in terms of sheer adrenal impact its hard to argue with the results.
Such debates are best left for a night in the pub or on the forums in any case and ignored when listening to the CD itself – you may not hear a word that is shrieked, you may struggle to remember what order the riffs come in or even pick them apart, but if no-nonsense 80s-style German thrash pushes your buttons it will be hard to argue with the sickly charms of Toxic Trace.
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