Toxikull – Under the Southern Light (Dying Victims Productions)

Wednesday, 21st February 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

You can feel the rubber meets the road with all speakers cranked full volume to take in the sound of Toxikull. Hailing from Portugal, they have two previous full-lengths under their belt – making Under the Southern Light a key record at this juncture of their careers. Five years between records should ensure a stronger effort – and for my first exposure to the group, it’s a stunning example of the traditional / power metal and melodic hard rock influences on hand, executing this material in an old school 80s manner with all the requisite tricks of the trade to convincingly create memorable tracks.

The subtle use of reverb, echo, or flange effects deepens the emotional authenticity wherever you choose to drop the needle (for vinyl lovers) or in any format you prefer. Soaking in the mix of US and European influences from the 80s decade, many will be able to pick out aspects of specific bands from Accept to W.A.S.P., Icon to Warlock, as well as the tried-and-true Dio, Judas Priest, and Saxon aspects – yet the four-piece find a way to inject a pure honest spirit to their performances, writing (and delivering) from the heart. Guitarist Lex Thunder doubles on lead vocals, his delivery, phrasing, and range certainly befitting of a powerhouse with leather lungs to spare – as the high-octane screams prove on the Manowar-ish “Battle Dogs” (added points for the boot marching, whistled conclusion). Elsewhere you’ll feel the synchronized dual rhythms next to double kick speed penetrating brains to take “Night Shadows” into future set list staple status, the additional background vocals plus bass heroic lines from Antim the Viking deserve devil horns approval. Simplified riff hooks match certain tempos to encourage arena-level support as “Around the World” illustrates, while the Lex Thunder / Michael Blade axe tandem pulls off some Thin Lizzy-esque meets Kiss harmonies on second half highlight “Going Back Home”. Forty minutes later, most will be ready for a return engagement as the addictive nature to the band’s style is easily infectious – swinging for the fences in tightly executed arrangements leaving little to chance.

There’s a reason why many third studio albums make (or break) careers. Toxikull have achieved their pinnacle effort with Under the Southern Light – one that the old-timers (and hopefully the younger generation) will hoist high to the power of traditional heavy metal and its ubiquitous, never say die attitude.

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