Review: Cytotoxin – Nuklearth
Alright, folks. It looks like we have ourselves some glow-in-the dark death metal from Germany’s Cytotoxin. I’m not just being silly. These guys are really into stuff that unravels DNA and elongates telemeres, to the point that they’ve dubbed their music “Chernobyl death metal.”
I’ll be honest here: I was really prepared to dislike this when I heard the somewhat deathcore-esque opening riffs of “Atomb.” Happily, my misgivings were proven to be completely wrong, as the breakdown quickly gives way to a fairly technical and very enjoyable blastbeat-based riff. In fact, this happens quite often over the course of the album. While breakdowns occur quite frequently, they’re never obnoxious, and they never overstay their welcome. After awhile, I even began to really enjoy said breakdowns, as they served as excellent counterbalances to the more blasting and technical riffs.
This is where I should mention that these are some really well-crafted songs. While the general mood is somewhat one-dimensional in that almost everything is geared toward pummeling the listener (what else would you want or expect from brutal death metal?), the quality of songwriting is easily apparent. This may be brutal death metal, but it certainly ain’t stupid death metal.
Cytotoxin wanna make crushing music, and they are using every tool at their disposal to do it. Aside from the previously mentioned breakdowns, the nuclear Germans also unleash technical havoc a la Origin, chugging grooves that would make Skinless proud, and even melodic passages that sound like if Kataklysm cut the shit.
Every riff lasts just long enough to get its point across. None are around long enough to get old, but they’re usually not too short to enjoy. Additionally, all the parts fit together nicely and avoid the Frankenstein effect that a lot of less capable bands fall into.
I know I said that Nuklearth is a bit single-minded in its approach to emotion, but that is not always the case. When Cytotoxin decide to veer into melodic territory, they do it pretty damn well. For example, at about the 2:00 minute mark, “Lupus Aurora” hits a swaggering melodic solo that is what I can only describe as sardonic. Again, “Nuklearth” has several moments that break from hammering the listener to inflict on them an effectively elegiac mood. Each of these moments, while relatively brief, is weirdly intensified by the focused aggression that earmarks them.
I’ve rambled on long enough about how much I appreciate the direct, yet dynamic, approach that Cytotoxin employs in their compositions. How do the individual parts pan out, though? They’re appropriate. This band is a solid example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. I’m not saying that the separate performances aren’t good. The drums hit like a nail gun into drywall. The guitars and bass are extremely accurate, and the vocals have more than a passing resemblance to Bloodbath‘s early era. It’s just that much of this is fairly standard affair on its face. What I am saying is this album is like a pizza. While you might enjoy cheese or pepperoni by themselves, they are much better together.
One more thing I’d like to highlight is how refreshing Cytotoxin’s lyrical approach is compared to other brutal death metal bands. Absent here are the dumbass tales of mindless violence or repugnant imagery of tasteless perversion. Instead, we have lines like, “Knowledge shall be the torch that enlights darkness of times/ Knowledge will be the torch that sets judgement on fire” in the song “Dominus.” Of course, such a declaration is mostly unintelligible. Still, it’s nice to know that there’s no risk of supporting a group who are espousing detestable ideas.
I’m actually surprised with how much fun I had listening to this album. Every song, with the exception of a kinda corny spoken word piece, was a damn good time. This enjoyment didn’t wane after repeated listens, either. So, that was neat.
Cytotoxin aren’t reinventing the wheel on Nuklearth, but they don’t need to. They do what they do very well. Cytotoxin may be a reference to a cell-killing substance, but with Nuklearth, they’re breathing life into a stale style.
4/5 Toxic Toilets
Get the album on Unique Leader’s Bandcamp page.