Released: 2010, Nightmare Records
When reviewing (or in general) it is a good idea to avoid judging a book (or CD) by it’s cover. In this case, I could not help but have some pre-conceived notion about Toxxic Toyz, based solely on the band name. However, I love glam in all it’s forms, so I was looking forward to hearing this record. When I did listen to the record for the first time, I was caught off guard because Toxxic Toyz are not glam at all but instead a very interesting and unique hybrid of a few styles.
It’s hard to easily describe them which is always a bonus for those who demand originality in their music. Personally, I’m not so fussy if a band is original or not as long as they execute their chosen style well with sincerity and conviction. Having said, MUTATION is an original collection of songs with great delivery. What is it with the French Metal scene these days? It’s really maturing and producing some awesome bands. This is the second record by these guys and I can say with confidence they sound like they are the fore-front of a burgeoning movement out of France along with other off-kilter bands like Karelia and Shaydon.
Sonically the band is hard to pin-point. They certainly are not in the more extreme genres of Thrash or Death but as previously mentioned not Glam either. Toxxic Toyz kind of remind me of Mr. Big but on a lot of drugs. The musicianship is of a much higher caliber than a standard melodic metal band and the songs are much more quirky. If you are familiar with an older band called T-Ride that might be a loose comparison. Other bands that started to emerge in the early 90’s like Saigon Kick, Kik Tracee, or Last Crack but heavier and faster. A more modern reference point might be the most excellent band Bloodbound.
Without just listing bands that they ‘sorta’ sound like, the music is arranged and composed in such a way that the songs do not really follow a standard, verse, chorus, verse chorus formula. They are not afraid to branch out into some great solos that come out of nowhere. The song ‘Chaos’ is just that, almost power Metal in it’s intensity with swirling solos all over the for it’s 8 minute duration. However, it is still very listenable, it’s not too progressive with bizarre time-changes and so on but the sense of song can still be followed returning to a very catchy chorus. Many, if not all the songs are like this. I don’t want to say weird because that has a negative connotation but MUTATION is certainly unconventional. There aren’t really much in the way of keyboards but above-average bass-lines really drive the faster songs.
A total highlight for me are the vocals of one Mr. David McBee. He sounds like Daniel Heiman of Lost Horizon. Seriously. He doesn’t have quite the same range or power but his delivery is extremely song and a similar style of really singing, not just ‘fast-talking’ like some vocalists. He really holds the notes and pushes them, giving the lyrics a real sense of urgency and intensity. He immediately grabbed my ear as a real powerhouse metal vocalist. It is largely his work that sets the band apart and farther out of the melodic metal smooth singer range and firmly into the ‘Metal’ camp.
Toxxic Toyz have found that elusive but much sought-after sweet-spot, the perfect blend of melody and metal. I haven’t heard someone do it this well since, perhaps Lionhearts self-titled debut back in 1992.