Under The Southern Light
Review by Felix on January 8, 2024.
Toxikull from Portugal are back and I ask myself whether the album’s title indicates a patriotic attitude. Either way, it took almost five years since the release of Cursed And Punished until the new work was born Under The Southern Light. Well, the album from 2019 was cruising somewhere between speed and heavy metal, but their new output stands with both feet on the time-honored ground of traditional metal. Honestly, I miss some speedy eruptions, but I admit that they have found a good formula for the old style. As a result, their songs sound lively and pretty ambitious. Yet it goes without saying that they do not live in vacuum and so their material also pays tribute to some old names.
Amazingly enough, the title track brings back the days of Crimson Glory’s “Transcendence”. Great feelings meet a powerful orchestration and despite almost fragile sequences, the song conveys the spirit of heavy metal. This type of track needs space and so it comes as no surprise that it is nearly the longest piece here. But it also stands out due to its emotional component, because Toxikull usually tends to offer Accept-esque pieces, only with a man behind the microphone who is really able to sing, haha. 'Battle Dogs' with its catchy configurations and the extremely cool background shouts sends greetings to Wolf Hoffmann. Moreover, it houses a crispy guitar solo, one of the kind Wolf once also liked before his “metal” heart told him to fall in love with classic melodies.
As indicated above, fiery speed metal is not in the portfolio of Under The Southern Light, but every now and then, the band has chosen up-tempo rhythms. The opener 'Night Shadows' with its Halford scream at the beginning does not lack a proper degree of velocity and 'Ritual Blade' cannot be described as lame, dragging or lazy as well. By the way, do not be confused by somewhat dusty names like Hoffmann or Halford. Toxikull present their earthy riffs with a very high level of conviction and maybe exactly this factor, their non-fickle mentality, lends the material a fresh undertone. Okay, traditional metal is almost never absolutely free from dubious pathos. A few ambivalent moments have crept in, for example overly expressive guitar solos. Furthermore, a little downer is 'Going Back Home' with its too happy lines. Not as happy as Helloween, thank God, but still too joyful.
Anyway, one bad song per album is not forbidden and underlines just the class of the remaining material. Under The Southern Light is a fine dose of pure metal which is based on a more than solid production. It gives each and every instrument enough space, even the bass is audible (wow!), and the energetic voice of the lead vocalist towers above everything. Maybe it is a bit too bombastic and too modern, but this is no big problem at the end. Even people like me, who prefer the “newer” sub-genres, can enjoy an album that reminds us of the once one and only recipe for resilient metal. Its first half is great, the second one still good and this justifies a 7.5, no doubt at all.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10361