Hemotoxin – Biological Enslavement (Unspeakable Axe)

Wednesday, 23rd March 2016
Rating: 8/10

A band who has cycled through a gaggle of members in their short history, California’s Hemotoxin are the brainchild of Michael Chavez. Originally intended as Chavez’s one-man outlet, he eventually tacked on some skilled dudes who have come and gone in between demos, 2013’s Between Forever…and the End, and now Biological Enslavement. Obviously, there’s something to this particular incarnation of the band, for Biological Enslavement drills down hard on the death/thrash technical hybrid without having to grappling with the “too much” malady that befall similar bands. Furthermore, it’s a robust album that doesn’t even clock in at 40 minutes. Talk about making good use of time.

Part of persuasion with this album is how seamless the blurring of lines is between tech-riddled guitar riffs, and thrash-ized happenings. There’s the necessary drop into Obscura territory (“Forgotten Faces”), however, Hemotoxin can lay down a serpentine groove that the Germans cannot. The succinct “Not of this World” is perhaps the album’s biggest nod to Human and/or Individual Thought Patterns, while the progressive-minded “The Alchemist” goes one step further, binding latter-day Death (see: Sound of Perseverance) with the tenacity and mobility of vintage thrash. The album’s penultimate moment is “A Journey Through Dreams.” An instrumental that works in headstrong melodies and even some spacious atmospheric guitar work (it could even be considered Gothic, but we won’t go that far), the song is also an outlet for some magnificent lead work courtesy of Michael Rohwer.

Rightfully savvy and upward without feeling the need to move mountains with fretboard gymnastics, Biological Enslavement is as engaged and mature of a tech death/thrash album you’ll hear thus far in 2016. Seriously, lots to like here, not just because Hemotoxin are aware of the golden rule: Leave ‘em wanting more.

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