My first cover story :)
TOXIC HOLOCAUST for Resound Magazine
Thrash and black metal are like peanut butter and chocolate; as separate entities, they’re great. Combined, they’re an unparalleled symphony of perfection, and if ingested in unhealthy quantities…they’ll fuck your stomach to hell and back and leave you crying for Mama. It’s a delicate balance that must be struck; too much thrash, and you lose black metal’s menacing Satanic atmosphere, but if you throw too much of the black stuff into the mix, you lose the sense of urgency and circle-pitting fury that makes thrash so much fun. Many bands try to whip up that elusive recipe successfully, but most end up burning themselves pretty badly, or just falling flat. Luckily, the ones that get it, really get it.
Case in point – Seattle, Washington’s own Toxic Holocaust serve up a heaping helping of blackened thrash metal that’s sure to satisfy the hungriest thrashers and most ravenous black metal warriors alike. The man behind the bullet belt and shades, Joel Grind himself, took time out to answer a question or two about TH’s upcoming Relapse debut, An Overdose of Death, and shed some light on what keeps the toxic waste flowing.
Since the band’s inception in 1999, Grind has unleashed some nineteen splits, EPs, demos, and compilations upon the unsuspecting masses with Toxic Holocaust, as well as acting as a live/session member for a variety of other bands, including Gravewurm and Japanese legends Abigail. The new record will be Toxic Holocausts’s third full-length. Joel seems unperturbed by his superhuman productivity rate – when asked how he manages to find time for all of that thrash, his response was short and sweet: “Just loving doing it, ya know. I never looked at any of it as a chore, it was all fun and is continuing to be fun. Why do it if you don’t like it?”
As any hesher with internet access and a pair of reasonably-intact eardrums can tell, thrash metal is the new big thing to hit the metal scene. Well, sort of. Thrash has been around for decades now, with the late greats doing their best to stay true and its more valiant survivors holding strong to past glories, still making badass music and killing it live through thick and thin. Now, kids who were born the same year Bonded by Blood was released have grown up, donned the requisite white Reeboks and vintage Overkill shirts, and started up a new wave of “old school” thrash metal bands. Some of them are awful, some of them have potential, and some are actually pretty damn good. It’s a great and terrible time to put out a new thrash metal album; you could either sell a ton of records and ride the new wave, or get swallowed up in the masses of patched jackets and unwashed hair that’s been clogging up the market for the last year or so.
Luckily for Grind, Toxic Holocaust has an instantly-recognizable sound that sets the band apart from the legions of like-minded thrash outfits that are out now. His songs seem to draw equally from the first wave of black metal and the glory days of thrash metal - Bathory, Hellhammer, Sarcofago, Venom. You can hear all of these bands (especially Bathory, who Grind cites as his main musical influence) in TH’s sound, alongside the more “typical” thrash elements. “I play music that I like to hear, it has a lot of elements of those bands but also a lot of punk too. Toxic stuff is always simple to the point Metal.” When faced with the unavoidable question about the latest trend to hit the metal scene (you guessed it, “retro” thrash), Grind is ambivalent. “I have no idea if it’s back or whatever, I like the enthusiasm, I just hope that I don’t get lumped in with any kind of fad. I’ll still be here after it’s over.” So where did that toxic blend of black, thrash, and attitude come from? “Hanging out with kids in the neighborhood, skateboarding and getting tapes from their older brothers. Stuff like Megadeth, Nuclear Assault and D.R.I. were constant staples. I started this band because at the time, there weren’t many bands still playing music like this.”
TH has been largely a solo project since its inception, with the addition of live members for shows and tours and guest musicians on several releases. As of now, Grind has put together a full band, adding two former members of Rammer and setting his sights on a full-scale invasion of the US of A. His first victory? Securing a spot on the unbearably-highly anticipated At The Gates reunion show, playing alongside Darkest Hour and friends Municipal Waste, the latter of which he has to thank for that sweetest of sweet spots. “Me getting on that tour had all to do with the guys in Municipal Waste. ATG were looking for an opening band, and the Waste guys suggested us. Those guys have really looked out for us, and we love touring with them. We always get along well, and there’s always some sort of rude behavior going on.” Grind reveals that his next undertaking will be going out with Overkill, and then continuing to tour his balls off!
After releasing his past material on a number of smaller labels, it turns out that the road to Relapse was less long and hard than simple and direct. “I think what led me to working with Relapse was the demo I did in 2007, It had some of the tracks from the new record on it. Relapse has been great to work with, it seems like they are the same page as I am when it comes to where I want Toxic to go in.” Complemented by some sick-ass cover art, courtesy of an up-and-coming artist called Halsey, An Overdose of Death is due out this fall.