Published Jul 18, 2011While many of us believed thrash revivalists Toxic Holocaust hit their stride on 2008's tertiary work, An Overdose Of Death..., with one listen to Conjure and Command, we now know the real score. A hotly anticipated bout of pummelling chug riffs, scorching vocal chords and crashing drums, this ten-track effort finds the band ― yes, they're a band now, not just writer/guitarist/drummer Joel Grind and a couple of hired musicians ― cohesive, primed and incredibly professional. Which isn't to say that any of Grind's past work was lacking. When backed by dedicated instrumentalists and not taking on every aspect himself however, the entire experience feels better rounded, direct and even more combative. Maintaining their trademark Discharge-meets-Bay Area onslaught, the barbed anthems and mosh-inducing fierceness of these 32 minutes are easily Toxic Holocaust's best commingling of metal, punk rock and hardcore, an endless explosion of headbanging, deafening proportions. When hearing the explosive fury of opener "Judgement Awaits You" unfurl into the menacing prowl of "I Am Disease," the vicious "The Liars Are Burning" and the chunky, double-time thunder of "Sound The Charge," Conjure and Command redefines relentless and assures that when it comes to this trio, the thrash resurgence isn't just temporary; its black menace is here to stay.
How difficult was it to follow up the praise of An Overdose Of Death... with Conjure and Command?
Grind: Well, after touring so much for Overdose, I saw what worked the best live from crowd response, as well as what we like to play the most. This time around, when writing I definitely kept that in mind. I wasn't really trying to compete with Overdose though; I just wrote what came to me. I didn't want to force anything or try to make Overdose Part Two.
How do you feel it alters Toxic Holocaust's overall sound with permanent members now?
I think it has a much tighter and aggressive feel. There was no way in hell I could have played drums on the stuff I was writing.
Did the band actually participate in writing the album or did you still do it all yourself?
I wrote all the tunes again, but it wasn't like a dictatorship or anything. I think the guys know I've always kind of had the vision for the band to sound a certain way. These guys totally killed it in the studio though and added their own feel to the songs. It wouldn't be the same record without them.
Was the three-year gap between releases mainly due to the attention it received?
I guess you could say that. We really toured our asses off for that one to get the name out there, as well there were some tour offers we couldn't refuse, like Danzig asking us twice to hit the road with him. That still amazes me.
The new guys did record in the studio, right? What was it like relinquishing some of that control after so long?
It felt good! Yes, it was so much easier recording this way than I have in the past!
Personally, did you want to explore any different aspects of Toxic Holocaust with this album? When I hear it, I feel more of your d-beat, Discharge influence than before. Am I crazy?
No, you aren't crazy, Discharge have been, and will continue to be, a huge influence on me. I wanted it to vary in tempo a lot so it didn't stagnate. I found that I like having some slow evil songs like "I am Disease" up against fast, balls-out ones like "Depths of Your Mind."
What are some of the lyrical themes going on this time?
I focused on a lot of occult topics this time and went more in depth than previous records. I like reading about old black magic practices, necromancy, witchcraft and that sort of stuff. (Relapse)