This makes absolute sense as the first album for me to review for our forgotten or overlooked classics section, as the ratio of genius to actual recognition is so phenomenally high (approximately a billion trillion to one at last count). Toxik are the kings of the overlooked thrash bands, the ones that sat 2 divisions below the big 4 but no-one really knows why. They burned brightly at the end of the 80’s, releasing two albums before breaking up in ’92, though they have since reformed and I await new material like some sort of thrash metal gimp chained in their cellar. For some, Toxik’s first album, 1987’s awesome World Circus, is their finest, but for me it is all about 1989’s follow up – Think This.
Maybe it’s because I wank over technical and progressive music so much, but Think This just seems to stand out above the gathered masses of the thrash pack, making all but the most seminal of albums seem as appetising as a shit and aids sandwich with extra shit.
The driving force behind the genius is Josh Christian, a truly incredible guitarist. It is an indictment of the world we live in that a man of this talent was out in the musical wilderness until their recent reunion. He sits on top of this record like a fat woman on a small mans face, absolutely dominating proceedings with guitar chops that should have seen him hailed as the thrash Van Halen. Where many thrash guitarists of the time were content playing fast, tuneless chromatic diarrhoea *cough* Kerry King *cough*, he was really pushing the envelope with bags of harmonics, sweeps, taps and whammy bar madness. Check out the Greed solo. Check out the Machine Dream solo!!! He should be up there on a diamond-encrusted throne with Skolnick, Friedman and the other hallowed names of thrash lead guitar, or at the very least be spoken of in the reverent tones reserved for the likes of Watchtower’s Ron Jarzombek.
In fact, Watchtower is a definite reference point for Think This, as they also took the thrash blueprint and doodled all over it with an array of technical flourishes, yet where Watchtower could often find themselves bogged down, Toxik never lose sight of the straight-up thrill of ball busting, neck breaking thrash. Songs like Technical Arrogance more than matched the ‘tower and Coroner at their prog thrash game, while Spontaneous and In God also capture the melodic side of Annihilator at their very best. The greater diversity of styles showcases the soaring vocals of Josh Sabin, and though Mike Sanders may have hit greater heights on World Circus, I feel that the more rounded approach displayed on Think This perfectly encapsulates the strides that the band as a whole had taken. There Stood the Fence is a thrash ballad™ of the highest, cheesiest calibre, but simultaneously a walk through a post-apocalyptic wasteland ravaged by nuclear Armageddon (This is 80’s thrash after all).
In fact it at face value it is such an awesomely 80’s album, the use of samples to begin many of the songs ties the album into a loose concept about the state of the world heading into the 90’s, racism, life in the shadow of the Cold War and the potential dissolution of a society in future shock. Which might seem very dated if the music itself didn’t sound so fresh. Bookended by the incredible Think This and instrumental Think That, there are no bad tracks (they even pull off a Led Zeppelin cover along the way) as should-be-classic after classic fly into your willing face.
This is an album that no self respecting thrash fan should be without, truly a classic album that should have been far, far bigger than it was as it basically makes most bands pitiful attempts sound like the last fart of a dying man. If you’re not into Toxik, you are not my friend.