Toxik

Think This

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Like many late-'80s metal outfits, New York's Toxik took such a cerebral approach to music that their songs often came across sounding like boring math problems or history classes instead of exhilarating art lessons. They even named their second and final album from 1989 Think This -- perhaps because they already anticipated that simply "listening to this" might not be enough. Well OK, surely not, but too much thinking is exactly what's required from all those who would dare to approach incredibly overwrought and stylistically scattered dexterity exercises such as "Greed," "Shotgun Logic," and the perfectly titled, inadvertently self-descriptive "Technical Arrogance." All are reminiscent of contemporary bands like Watchtower, Non-Fiction, and Hades, in that the duress of deciphering their Byzantine arrangements is possibly only less challenging than withstanding the high-pitched, glass-shattering vocal style (here shrieked by one Charles Sabin) that was so popular in those days. Elsewhere, Toxik also take some inspiration from local heroes Anthrax on thrashier but somewhat atonal numbers like "Black and White" and the title track; rarely hesitate to interject synths into the mix when they feel like it; surprisingly cover Led Zeppelin III's "Out on the Tiles" (terribly!); and arguably sound most at ease on the unusually deliberate and melodic trad-metal departure, "There Stood the Fence" (more fluid in style, à la Queensrÿche or Fifth Angel). And then there's the final "shred" element provided by the group's chief architect, Josh Christian, whose dazzling fretwork gymnastics may offer entertainment enough in spite of the songwriting deficiencies cited above. In short, although it's abundantly clear why Toxik's music failed miserably from a commercial point of view, there's bound to be something worthwhile here for progressive metal fans looking for performance as much as actual songwriting.

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