Review Summary: *** WARNING *** RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL
Finding the greatest extreme metal band of the past decade is obviously a subjective exercise. If we ask a hundred people, with a substantiated opinion, we will probably get sixty different answers. Extreme metal is essentially a musical expression of niches, being almost impossible to find generalized consensus. However, if we ask any metaller, minimally aware of what has been going on, which is the most radioactive band of the last decade, we'll get a unanimous answer: Cytotoxin. A collective whose concept revolves around Chernobyl's nuclear disaster deserves this distinctive recognition. Their radioactive thematic places the band at the top of mind of many brutal death metal listeners, more accustomed to themes related to severe sexual perversion or putrefaction of the flesh. It's true that the concept is somewhat restrictive in the long run, but if we consider these guys don't yearn to be mainstream rock stars, it looks like they hit the jackpot.
Stylistically, Cytotoxin moves through brutal technical death metal grounds, with a taste for sweep picking and dynamic vocals, a bit like Benighted's Julien. Technically, they're among the best of their kind, with all musicians being at the top of the food chain, but here technique works in benefit of the song, and not the other way around. This songwriting focus was what excited me most in their 2012 sophomore release Radiophobia
, one of the best extreme metal albums of the year, also responsible for catapulting the band to the forefront of the genre. Although the following release Gammageddon
delivered strong highlights, such as 'Radiatus Generis', it didn't impress me the same way. However, looking back now, maybe it was an inevitable step towards a more comprehensive approach. I wouldn't call it a transitional album, but I felt the band hadn't embraced its full potential.
Something they would fully achieve three years later.
Let me start by saying that not only do I think Nuklearth
is the best album the band has ever recorded, I also feel it will become a seminal album of its kind. Not for its irreverence or originality, but for its creative maturity and engaging songwriting. A song like 'Dominus' mirrors that maturity splendidly, either through its mesmerizing lead harmony or via its radioactive riffs that swing through several tempos. The lads are at the top of their game, diving gracefully into a wider pool. The album offers overwhelming choruses as in 'Lupus Aurora', 'Uran Breath' or 'Drown in Havoc', with the latter also featuring an interesting solo, being one of the best tracks on the album. Warp drive blast beats, massive breakdowns, dazzling sweep picking, lethal riffs, you name it. Nuklearth
encapsulates the band's entire radioactive recipe with amazing mastery. The inclusion of slower tracks like 'Soul Harvester' and 'Nuklearth' helps to balance the listening, with the former even serving as a resting point during the journey. Consistency and artistic direction are absolute, to the point of feeling that sometimes we are experiencing a unique composition, with twelve movements. This kind of cohesion only occurs when we're facing a force in its full artistic maturity. Opener 'Atomb', with its catchy tremolo picking, is also a good example of this sapient approach.
Just like Reign Supreme
or Monolith of Inhumanity
in the past decade, Nuklearth
has the potential to become a reference of its kind in this new cycle. It is a testimony of a band at its peak, confident in its ability, without fear of broadening its sound. Only time will tell if it turns out to be the band's magnum opus, meanwhile, letâ€™s all bow before the most radioactive band of 2020. After all, the Geiger counter never lies.