Wisconsin thrashers, Toxic Ruin, formed in 2014 and released their debut album, Subterranean Terror, in 2016. Now they’ve inked a deal with M-Theory Audio for their sophomore effort, and it’s a clear attempt to charge to the front of the modern death-thrash scene with a mixture of high-octane energy and the type of blistering aggression that could land them a slot at the prestigious Obscene Extreme festival in the Czech Republic. Nightmare Eclipse is a record for the party thrash crowd as well as the extreme metal fantasist, but it’s also as lethal as a heroin overdose. Too much in one go can kill you.
There’s plenty to admire if you have the stamina to reach the end of Nightmare Eclipse. Opener, ‘Until Everything is Gone’, starts with a fade-in of spooky finger-tapped guitar passages for the head-banging assault ahead and blends the line between thrash and death metal with the expertise of a classic Sodom record. Lead single, ‘Ritual Rebirth’, takes the classic Metallica riffing of the mid-80s and adds the ferocious tremolo notes of Morbid Angel to enhance the brutality. Here the Jacob Baneck and Blake Toltzmann guitar combination showcases the awesome power of the rhythm playing – to the point where the fast alt-picking sounds like it could snap their strings at any moment.
Like the recent Evile record, Toxic Ruin’s influences are easy to discern, perhaps too easy. If Evile leaned heavy into their Sepultura influence on their comeback LP, the Wisconsin quartet are close to vintage Kreator in the late 80s and early 90s. Whether this is intentional is up for debate, but this could be the German titans coming through your speakers if you close your eyes. ‘Voices of Death’ is a solid thrash workout, but it offers little in the way of originality and is too much of a stretch at six minutes in length. ‘Defiler’ thrives on an extended intro of competing riffs before it settles into a thrash rhythm with occasional outbursts of blast beats, but at least one of the five minutes could be cut from the final track. There’s a feeling that you’ve heard this type of rapid but mechanical metal a million times before, just as the second wave of thrash bands that emerged in 1990 had less of an impact on the senses in the wake of those that came before them.
You might even struggle to reach the end after the throwaway party thrash of ‘Liqor Blood Bound’. But stick with it, and you’ll find the title track to be a gem of a song. You can see why Toxic Ruin chose it as their second video single, with the metallic precision of the guitars and drums demonstrating their technical wizardry and exquisite timekeeping like Havok at their most imperious. Listen to the bite of the pinch-harmonics on the lower strings – that’s how you make your guitar hiss like the venomous tongue of a python.
It might be guilty of too much technical fretwork and lose itself in a dizzying array of rhythmic changes and modulations, but Toxic Ruin’s sophomore album is far from a disaster. They do little wrong on this release but might want to think how they can stand out from the crowd on their next record.
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Record Label: M-Theory Audio
Standout tracks: Until Everything is Gone, Defiler, Nightmare Eclipse
Suggested Further Listening: Prayers of Sanity – Doctrine of Misanthropy (2021), Kreator – Gods of Violence (2017), Evile – Hell Unleashed (2021)