I like to think I do an OK job in the kitchen, especially if I’m armed with a trusty, well-compiled cookbook. But recipes blow my mind. I’m never not astonished at how someone at some point figured out all of these ingredients to put together to make a loaf of bread, or a cake, or a beer.
Thankfully some really smart people figured all of that out for us. Thanks, smart bakery and concoction people. I also am dumbfounded sometimes when I hear bands that take all kinds of different elements and boil them together to create mind-melting metal. That’s what went through my head when hearing “Biological Enslavement,” the seconds record from Hemotoxin. Already, two albums into their run, they come across as incredibly accomplished and smart, a band playing ahead of themselves. If you’re into groups including Megadeth (think “Rust in Peace” era), Atheist, Death, Cynic, and modern maulers Horrendous, you’re likely to unearth a ton to enjoy about these guys.
This California-based death-and-thrash amalgamation have been around for six years now, putting out some demos and an EP before their debut full-length before “Between Forever … and the End” landed in 2013 (not surprisingly, it contains a cover of Death’s “Suicide Machine”). Now on this second album, the band—vocalist/guitarist Michael Chavez, lead guitarist Michael Rowher, bassist Nathan Fruth, drummer Brandon Wilcox—show growth in leaps and bounds. This is a group that certainly has its chops down, but they never bog you down with their technicality. The band plays with heart and passion, and they’d have been right at home playing alongside the artists who paved the path for them.
This nine track, 35-minute killer gets going with “Decadence,” a song that blasts you with techy punches right off the bat, with punchy playing and the harrowing warning of, “Last chance to evacuate Earth before it is recycled,” making you think of alien environmental holocaust. “Regression” follows, treading the same path, as harsh vocals strike, guitars explore the environment, and spacious soloing grabs your imagination and sends it into the face of a monster. “Minus Human” has guitars bursting before everything suddenly calms and goes into a jazzy section. Chavez pokes, “Are you human or just a recreation?” while the band rips into a thrashy assault that continues to speed up until it explodes at the end. “Not of This World” has a splattering opening, as the band begins to unload, with maniacal vocals creating wounds, a speedily spat chorus adding insult to your pain, and the soloing just going off.
“Forgotten Faces” is tricky and mucky at first, the band trudging through the mud, and the vocals coming in as gruff shouts. Guitars spill all over the place, making a big mess, and the leads take charge and blast into the messages lambasting the leaders of the world for valuing profit over humanity. “The Alchemist” takes some pretty cool twists, opening clean and dark and then taking an adventurous turn. The vocals continue to scrape, while the guitars swelter and burn. “Bleak Prognosis” has a foggy start, situating itself deep in the murk before the band starts to shred hard. Despite the title, the song pushes a hopeful agenda of expanded thinking and progress, with Chavez wailing, “New life spawns a new breed,” as strong soloing takes hold, and the track hits a raspy finish. “A Journey Through Dreams” is an instrumental with a proggy opening, tricky playing and a cold front blowing in. Every element starts to blaze with raging power, spiraling out and setting the stage for closer “Transparent Eyes.” A fiery start takes hold, with the band chugging away, and the vocals causing bruises. Exploratory soloing sends you through the cosmos and back, as the band packs energy and madness into the song’s last moments.
Hemotoxin are an impressive band that have all the potential in the world to be one of the most interesting, creative groups moving metal forward. “Biological Enslavement” is a heavy, accomplished, fun record that drags you through the darkness and chaos. It should warm the hearts of like-minded musicians in their company and put a smile on the faces of those who relish honest, well-played metal. It’s scary to think that these guys really are just at their beginning.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Hemotoxin
To buy the album, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/