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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Review: ToxicRose – In for the Kill

Label: Golden Robot Records

Date: September 24th, 2021

My first contact with the Swedish hard rock / metal scene was a long time ago when Europe ruled the world with “The Final Countdown”. Back then, something we called glam / sweet / melodic metal was extremely popular. I was a generation that grew up on the second generation of glam metal bands such as Europe, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Poison… Just to be clear, I never wore spandex (except in the gym), big hair, lace, high heels… If you are one of those who thinks glam is girl metal, throw that away right now! I saw more stylish guys than girls in the world of metal.

A lot of years later, if someone told me glam metal returns and it returns in a big style in Sweden, I would not believe it. ToxicRose were formed in Stockholm in 2010 and ” In for the Kill” is their second release.

The album obeys with great hooks and guitar riffs, infectious pop elements, sing along choruses, and you might be surprised by damn good guitar solos.  Add a bit punkish rebellious vocal deliverance, and, as far as I am concerned, you git the winning combination.

“Blood on Blood” is a great album opener, chosen as the first single, premiered in May 2020. Great hymnic peace of music packed with power and energy. You might be surprised, but the chorus sounds like it came straight from the kitchen of Finnish colleagues Lordi. From the beginning to an end, guitar solos are the holders of the album. Here specifically, Tom Wouda will demonstrate his skills.

In September 2020, ToxicRose released the video for “Heroes”. The first thing that crossed my mind was: “Damn, the opening riff seems so familiar!” And yes! It reminds me of Andrew W.K. “Babalon”. However, the song is uncompromisingly bone crusher. This song is powerful, maybe too commercial but it’s damn infectious, moving, spiced with a bit of modern metal. Guitar solo goes in the direction of finest power metal, additional backing vocals emphasizes atmosphere, and if you ever thought this band might be too sleazy for you, please, open your mind, do not underestimate this great band. The lyrics are socially engaged with a strong message.

Every big band needs a song for big shows, stadiums or arenas and  “In for the Kill” is made for that. Again, Lordi influence is obvious, at least in vocal performance. And if you wondered what classifies this song for big audiences, fist in the air and headbanging that is the chorus:

“In for the kill
Release the fire, you will prevail
In for the kill
Higher and higher
In for the kill
Time to deploy, seek and destroy
You’re at the final destination
Take a stand, follow your will
In for the kill.”

“Remedy” brings us back to the 80’s, especially its chorus. This song is more heavy metal oriented, but still, pop layers are adding special note to the song.

The next one, “Angel Down”, starts with bell chime, slower pace, the song has great rhythm. “Fathers little angel, so innocent and pure”, softens the song. Majestic chorus and magnificent guitar solos along with narrative part bring additional quality to the most versatile song of the album.

Released as the fourth single, “Outta of Time”, is a bit heavier, darker, with lyrics focused on the human mind. Keyboard parts here are the most involved.

Video for “Domination” was released in March 2021. The song is a fusion of new, fresh, modern metal and thrashy sound. I can not resist that vocal performance, especially in verses:

“Can your body feel the heat
Growing in the streets
Loud as thunder”

reminds me of COB. For sure, this song is one of my favorites and it bought me with its melody, amazing guitar solos and energy.

“Open Up N’ Bleed” again delivers modern touch, calms down a bit, and no matter how keys are just too much for my taste, again guitar solos win.

“New Breed” is also one of my favorites. If there is a perfect song, than this is the one! This is the finest ToxicRose trademark. And yes, those guys are total new breed with spikes and leather, a hungry gang of beasts that feed the machine who break down the barricades of yesterday united through the flames…

La grande finale! “The Great Escape” is the perfect closure of this magnificent album. And if the rest of the songs were more heavy and power oriented, “The Great Escape” mostly leans on glam, specifically in chorus and additional vocals. So, in the end, band your head in the rhythm of:

“All I wanna be
Just a memory
No identity
Away from this reality
Who do I wanna be
Just take me away
This is the great escape”.

ToxicRose are not typical glam. If you would only look at their photos, their image (Dimmu Borgir meets Motley Crue)  you might never guess what they are playing. The base of their visual appearance is more dark than glitzy. Ok, Michael’s blond hair might trick you, but if you repulsed the band for any reason, give them a chance, they are damn good! ToxicRose are not just a bunch of Swedish good looking guys, it is not the band that recycles glam, it is a band made of great musicians whose future will show they are the new breed.

Absolute highlight: guitar solos.

Sweden has always been home of great metal bands, the time has come for ToxicRose to dominate.