Toxic Bonkers
"Progress"

(Selfmadegod 2007)Toxic Bonkers - Progress

Wow, does Toxic Bonkers have one of the worst band names you have ever heard, or what? I mean, it's pretty much a toss-up between them and Bobaflex. Musically, though, Toxic Bonkers pummels Bobaflex into a bloody, toothless mess. That being said, "Progress" is the fourth album by Toxic Bonkers since their debut LP in 1997. Now, I haven't heard the other three, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they bear striking resemblance to "Progress." I have no factual grounds for this opinion, but listening to "Progress," one doesn't get a sense that Toxic Bonkers and progression go hand in hand.

Mixing elements of death metal, grind, and hardcore, this album is filled with up-tempo brutal riffing, mid-tempo brutal riffing, and not much else. For each song, Toxic Bonkers puts together some Shift-era Nasum guitar fury with Hatebreed style tough guy chug and vocal work. Throw in a blast beat here and there, and you've got yourself a record. Full Blown Chaos does the same thing to remarkably similar effect.

When the band wanders outside of this formula is when things get a bit sketchy. Spoken words every now and then, a Helmet-style stop and start riff in "Hole in the Head," and clean guitar with minor electronics in the title track are some bits that just don't work. Perhaps meant to break up what is essentially a thirty five minute beatdown, they come off instead as distracting and unwelcome. Fortunately, Toxic Bonkers don't drop too many of these little nuggets of variation. In fact, the best tracks on "Progress" are the ones in which Toxic Bonkers abandon all pretense of innovation and go into straight up "rip that shit" mode. Opener "Emptiness" and "Anti-Violent" are the best examples of how powerful Toxic Bonkers' distilled brutality can be.

While the album may seem a tad formulaic, there is something to be said about playing the absolute hell of this style of music. If you're going to make an album like "Progress," you can't half-ass it, which Toxic Bonkers can't be accused of doing. They've made have made an album that practically bleeds anger. As a bonus, "Progress" is great if you play any sort of organized sport. Listen to it pre-game, and you'll be more than ready to annihilate dudes on the other team.

B

buy it!