St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
Hello! Yes, I’m predictable, at least if you’ve been paying attention. East from tech-thrashers REALM and progressive power metal weirdos SLAUTER XSTROYES to the toxic shores of New Jersey and…TOXIK, obviously.
With two seemingly equally acclaimed albums to choose from, I’m have to go with the World Circus 1987 debut for this Old Metal Thursday romp. Why? The ludicrous, nuclear-era socio-political cover art from Ed Repka for one (hard to resist), and the mind-numbing kamikaze musicianship and insane tempos for two as they provide a nice mirror to the work we recently explored on REALM’s Endless War. I suggest listening to the albums back to back to form your own opinions on this technical thrash arms race of mutually assured destruction, all courtesy of YouTube and the olden days of Roadrunner Records.
World Circus starts fast and keeps its foot on the gas for nearly a solid 40 minutes. All the latent similarities to REALM are here — the screechy-shriek vocals, limitless high-flying riff variations and untouchable musical agility — and the style is so obscurantist as to make the two bands seem nearly identical. Fortunately we’re all well-trained metal listeners and the promise of digging through subtle variations, however innocuous or irrelevant to the outsider’s ear, are a great source of joyful and friendly debate for our kind.
That said, I think REALM emerges from this onslaught in better shape than TOXIK once the dust clears. Where TOXIK circa World Circus seems like MEGADETH in the grip of violent seizure, with some fairly pedestrian arrangements hacking through the bramble patch of confusing riffing, REALM (to me) were more adept with the entire musical vocabulary available to them at the time and hit more often on elevated or innovative ideas. TOXIK’s 1989 follow-up Think This, muzzled by a softer production, restrained tempos and somewhat unadventurous nature, makes this distinction even clearer, though many seem to prefer that one’s maturity to the anxiousness of the debut.
Of course that’s all one blog’s/record store’s/dude’s opinion, and the kind of high-energy showmanship TOXIK exude is fun completely independent of any possible shortcomings in the nerd world of our minds. That’s why we all love metal so damned much. Give TOXIK a listen if you haven’t before and let us know your thoughts if you have them. Cheers!
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