Record Swap: W. Vs. IronLawnMower
Greetings and welcome back to Record Swap. Today I’m throwing myself into the coliseum against IronLawnMower, a fan of all things un-skronk. Do I disarm him with the weirdest album in my arsenal, or do I seek the path of unity and accept his likely traditional recommendation as a peace offering? The rules are simple. No research. No foreknowledge. No mercy. — W.
W.’s Assignment: Toxik – Think This (1989)
When it came to assigning W. his record I had a think; he seems to enjoy the more technical side of things. Part of me was tempted to send him something he’d hate like Vomitor or Evil Army. but then I made the decision to not be an immature dick and thought of sending him Dimension Hatross by Voivod (favourite album ever btw), but he’d probably already heard it. So why not Toxik? And Toxik he received. – IronLawnMower
I like metal. I like food. I like to write about metal, and I like to cook food. It makes sense to me, then, to compare different kinds of music to different kinds of food. Some releases tickle your palate with a gingery, zesty guitar solo. Some burn your mouth with spicy intensity. Some take your tonsils through a number of twists and turns as disparate, seemingly incompatible flavors barrage you in unexpected combinations. Think This by Toxik isn’t really any of those things. Instead, the thrash metal played by this band is a staple food, a time-honored American tradition like the Whopper that comes in a neat plastic package that tells your taste-buds exactly what to expect.
That isn’t to say that burgers aren’t enjoyable. Quite the contrary, this hunk of beef comes with a number of genre traditions that will most definitely treat your molars in exactly the way they expect to be treated (aside: these mouth metaphors are getting a bit weird). Sneering vocals spit anthemic polemics against the government, religion, and other incarnations of The Man trying to keep you down through propaganda like that printed on your large cola cup. A crunchy, Burton-esque bass rumbles along in unison with serviceable, speedy drumming, forming reliable and never overstated rhythmic buns for the rifftastic patty sandwiched betwixt them. And we both know that patty is what you’re here for; it’s got just the right amount of greasy sloppiness inherited from the punkier roots of NWOBHM and a steadfast consistency throughout. That riff patty is grilled to perfection, tuned especially to cater to your craving for genuine American meatiness and topped with the slightest hint of a tangy technicality to make each bite a little more rewarding. A light searing from some genuinely killer solos, especially on “Machine Dream”, only adds to that flavor.
Really though, sometimes meeting expectations comes with a little bit of disappointment/and or shame long after the meal has been consumed, and this album is no exception. On top of that riff patty is a cheesy thrash ballad that should have been left to die in the 80s. There’s also the requisite cover song performed by a young band paying lip service to the oldies (“No Quarter” by Led Zep) that’s sure to give most a little bit of heartburn. Tying it all together, though, is that distinct mass-production flavor you tend to get with this type of thrash. It doesn’t matter if the label says Toxik or Havok or Warbringer. You know exactly what you’re going to get. Some like that. Others, on occasion, want a little more.
Thrash metal is like comfort food to me. It reminds me of growing up, of digging into heavy metal, of discovering a distinctly American flavor that I know will always be there when I want something predictable to make me feel good. Toxik is like a nice fast food burger; dependable but never quite reaching that AAA flavor I often crave. However, if I’m in the mood for nothing more than some artery-clogging headbanging action, I know which drive-thru I can I always pull into. – W.
IronLawnMower’s Assignment: Doomsword – Let Battle Commence (2003)
I know IronLawnMower prefers things of a slightly less dissonant variety, and I had yet to talk about one of my favorite more traditional metal albums of all time, so I knew I had to send him Doomsword’s Let Battle Commence. I first happened upon the ‘Sword back in high school while surfing Limewire Pro for metal songs about war to make a playlist to act as background music for shooting Nazis on Call of Duty 2. The plaintive, mighty sounds conjured by Doomsword can’t be called brutal in the slightest, but they’re still very heavy, and Let Battle Commence remains a constant spin for me to this day. – W.
When W. offered to partner up with me for Record Swap, I was expecting incomprehensible
space noise from hell that sounded like metal spiders with syringes for legs raving in my brain.
Yet, when I clicked the link, I was greeted by the sounds of a soft acoustic guitar and singing which in my opinion is always a great way to start a bitchin metal record, and let me tell you children this is a BITCHIN metal record. This band, especially in the vocals department, remind me of Candlemass if Candlesmass sang about Vikings and glory in battle. There’s no way these guys aren’t Swedish. I refuse to believe any evidence on the contrary. The vocalist sounds Swedish. The doom sounds Swedish. The drums sound Swedish. The album cover screams Sweden. I even think a few lines are sung in Swedish from what I can make out.
One of the things I really like about this band is they know when to throw in a clitoris-swelling solo. The solos on this album fall into the melodic side of things. (In my opinion metal solos fall into one of two camps, swelling soulful melodic solos to make you shed a tear or bizzare rape of the higher register that sounds like spiders). In my opinion every metal album needs solos by laws, so it’s good to see a band obeying the laws of Alex, especially on the third track “Woden’s Reign”. That thing could bring a nun to orgasm.
Of course you can’t have solos without riffs, and this album has plenty of those, giving off atmosphere of epic battles raging for 53 of our earth minutes, my favourite likely being the main and chorus riffs on the second song.
To finish with I would heartily recommend this band. – IronLawnMower
Well, that was an anticlimactic battle. I’m over here babbling about food while IronLawnMower swings his steel around. At least we’re both headbanging. Want to get involved in Record Swap? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.