freaKINGS – “Toxic End”


The Swiss thrash masters freaKINGS are back with their third album, Toxic End, and it picks up where Gladiator left off and shows the band maturing but not losing the riffs, speed, and intensity that made their previous album so great.

I have no idea what is going on in Switzerland that would inspire a thrash band, but freaKINGS continue to impress.  The Basel, Switzerland band first impressed me with their second album which followed their 2011 debut No Way Out.  The fact that a three piece can make so much noise and power is amazing.  For those looking for some frame of reference, the band cites Vengeance Rising, Moritification, and Deliverance as influences, but even the casual listener will pick up old Slayer and Kill Em All era Metallica in the mix.  This time the band even brought in some hired guns for extra guitar on a couple songs with Damir Eskic (Gonoreas) adding a solo to “Brain Dead” and Lenny Bruce (Dust Bolt) lending his talents to “TxWxNxD”.  Once again, the band had Christophs at Iguana Studios handling the mixing and mastering .

When I first reviewed Gladiator a few years ago, I had no idea what to expect but I was hooked after about 20 seconds of the first song.  Same thing with this album.  Fast riffs, jackhammer drums, screams and the song is off an raging, bringing back memories of thrash bands from long ago.At least in the first song “Hell on Earth” there’s even a bit of old Tom Araya in the vocals.  If my memory serves, my one knock on Gladiator was the sometimes odd phrasing in the English vocals, but that seems so long ago listening t “Hell on Earth”.  The sound seems fuller, meatier as well and production is clean.  Just so much to like in only the first song, and the fun continues on “Future Vision” and “Violent Disaster.”  To me the biggest change is in the vocals, which honestly were not my favorite part of Gladiator.  Gone is some of the awkward phrasing and speech patterns and the snarling rougher tone that has been added completely works for this genre.  The short bursts of delivery are timed will with the songs and the more powerful gang vocals this time out add another dimension to the sound.

“TxWxNxD” is the first track on the album featuring a guest musician and perhaps appropriately, the song is “Thrash Will Never Die”.  Strong gang vocals, ultra-fast riffs transitioning to fast melodic sections and even more transitions to slower driving riffs all punctuated by the staccato drumming.  Then when the time comes, Lenny Bruce (Dust Bolt) delivers a guitar solo perfectly matched to the song.  “Brain Dead” is the other track featuring a guest musician, this time Damir Eskic (Gonoreas) adds his personal touch to the guitar solo.  As a song, this one seems to slow things down a bit compared to the others on the album and Damir’s solo melds nicely with the song as the tempo picks up.

As you listen to the album, you can’t help but wonder how the band could pull off a full set of these songs live.  The speed and intensity never really let up, but then again on a thrash album should it ever?  On top of all the great fast riffs and driving rhythms, there are some guitar solos that add a lot to the songs.  Obviously the two guest musicians were brought in for a reason, but the solo on “Toxic End” is one of those that also stands out.

As I listen to the album, it almost seems as if the songs keep getting faster as the album progresses, with the short “Beer Attack” being insanely fast and the one song on the album where the Swiss person speaking in English vocals nearly can’t keep up.  The album ends with “No More Excuses” which at times seems equally fast but is more varied in tempo rather than just full out.  I’m sure some will say that many of the songs sound very similar and that the drumming while insanely fast, seems also very similar in some of the songs, and there may be something to that but when all of the songs are this good, even if that was true, would it really matter?

For those looking for thrash like you used to hear, I once would have recommended freaKINGS second album Gladiator, but now I have to go with Toxic End. For one, you simply don’t hear music like this anymore and the band has found their niche and their overall sound has matured since Gladiator to the point that this album could serve as a definition of thrash to a new generation.

Rating: 10/10

Written by John Jackson

01. Hell on Earth
02. Future Vision
03. Violent Disaster
04. TxWxNxD
05. Toxic End
06. Friendly Fire
07. Brain Dead
08. Price of Freedom
09. Wave of Pain
10. Beer Attack
11. No More Excuses

Band Members:
Simon Straumann – Drums
Toby Straumann – Bass
Jonathan Brutschin – Guitar, vocals

“No Way Out” (2011)
“Gladiator” (2014) (review)
“Toxic End” (2017)

Record Label: Independent, March 2017

Weblinks: Facebook  / Website / Reverbnation

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘Wave of Pain’

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