("BETTER THAN HELL RECORDS"; CD)
(Running time: 13 songs in around 41:36 minutes.)
(Note: Don't ask me if there is or will be also a vinyl release and if so via which label, I don't know it, even I could imagine that there will be a LP release of it, and if so only for the artwork who alone would deserve a vinyl/LP release.)
It had been a few years since my last meeting with TOXPACK album-wise, the so far latest album of them in my collection was or better is their "CULTUS INTERRUPTUS" album from back then in 2007, back then still released by the infamous "DSS RECORDS" label (is this label still existing today... existing and active...?!?), so you see, seven years passed us by since then, and now here I have their so far more or less brandnew album "FRISS!". The two albums in between, "EPIDEMIE" and "BASTARDE VON MORGEN" I don't own and I also never really cared that much for, some songs I know, some of this songs I liked, some not, so you see, none of them really kicked me, so the albums dissappeared from my radar screen. TOXPACK pretty much lost a lot of their importance for me with and after "CULTUS INTERRUPTUS", simply because from my point of view this whole (East Berlin) Streetcore thing died or started to die fast with this album and they turned more and more into a through and through straight German Rock band and after there are already too many bands of that kind outta there and I was never a fan of that stuff and even not that much of a big BÖHSE ONKELZ fan (especially not of their later and late releases), nah, and so I then wiped TOXPACK away from me, to say it this way, and never cared for them anymore since then. Yes, and then now. Then 2014 happened and from out of nowhere their newest album popped up on my radar and finally even made its way into my record collection again. And so now here we are.
I bought this album due to the fact that the two video or single releases, "NICHTS HÖREN, SEHEN, SAGEN" and "NICHTS BLEIBT WIE ES IST", totally blewed me away. Let's get it straight, even in the beginnings of TOXPACK had clear and strong bounds to Oi! and Skinhead, also music-wise, hm, they never were a Oi! or Skinhead band and from my point of view they also never proclaimed to be that or that they wanted to be that. Always by far more Hardcore and Hard Rock/Rock & Roll and also Metal with some few Oi! and Punk impressions left and so I simply can't understand all the nutjobs outta there crying and bitching around that TOXPACK wouldn't be a Oi! or Skinhead band anymore with this very album here, they simply never were and they never wanted to be, point and fact. Okay, and from this Hardcore, Metal, and Hard Rock/Rock & Roll cocktail with some few Oi! and Punkrock notes in it they then turned over the years more and more out to be or to become a, hm, let us say straight (German) Rock band. That's no problem at all, but the songs simply became more and more ungrapping and unattractive, uninspired and uninspiring, and so I was out, and then I heard the two mentioned songs and they grapped me promptly and in a supreme and dominant way, and so without wasting a second thought I went and bought "FRISS!", so this all here and now came to happen, yes, hm, and now I somehow wish a little bit that I would have wasted a second thought and not 15 Euro bucks... at least a little bit I do wish so...
Why?!? It's simple: "FRISS!" is everything but a bad album and it's pretty impressive how far TOXPACK had developed their music and themselves in a sense of professionalism, but this not at all in a really convincing way, it simply happened in a incredible soft and (in an all in all not so positive meant) poppy direction or way, with unbelievable soft and clean guitars, and pretty often superficial dingle-dangle and because of that pretty annoying refrain arrangements, über-intrusive clear and clean lead vocals that (too bad) sound all in all not really unerringly and also too overly doubled and tripled, some sometimes better and sometimes not really that good'n'clever placed and arranged piano and synthie/sampler parts with sort of a oh so emotional flowing vibe for the heartbroken crowd outta there, and by far too overused "Ahaaaaa!!!", "Ohooooo!!!", and "Whoooaaa!!!" background chantings, hm, and this is also everything but creative or upsetting or revolutionary or fresh'n'new like TOXPACK themselve announce it in the opener "STILLSTAND (KEINE ZEIT)", but instead of this it's all very chart-, pop-, and mainstream-affine and so it seems like TOXPACK go in a pretty comparable or same direction like the BROILERS and so expect here an album somewhere between Emo Pop music (even bands like MADSEN and MUFF POTTER here and there come to my mind... and that's nothing that speaks for TOXPACK or "FRISS!") and German Rock that will definitely please fans of this genre (especially when they act their part of the emotional and thoughtful sensitive guy as well as the upsetting tough guy part) and it's also an album that reminds me a lot of newer DIE TOTEN HOSEN albums and, only logical... maybe..., late BÖHSE ONKELZ albums, hm, and again this gives them not really any points in my book, hm, and I also ask myself who really needs this all anyhow anyway...?!? But I could imagine more than enough folks outta there... and why not, tastes in music differ and at least TOXPACK are strong musicians that know what they have to do and so they do. Even it works, again, not really for me... and I think it works in general not really... So you will find from my point of view totally annoying and especially unnecessary songs like "ALLES LÜGE" (stop crying like a sixteen years old boy... now serious: lyric- and music-wise this song is so much under its potential, it's a damn shame, TOXPACK are old and should be good enough to work out such a topic in a by far more clever and proper way, lyric- and music-wise), "FREIHEIT" (the verses are done great, great arranged and delivered, but the refrain part... oh man, what a crappy farce, it totally demolishes the whole song...!!!), "GUTE REISE" (this can't be meant serious, never, bah!!!), the annoying BROILERS ripp off "INTRO" - titled "GUSTATIO" - and "OUTRO" - titled "BELLARIA" - tracks, and the terrible "TRANSATLANTIK RENDEZVOUS" that sounds like TOXPACK trying to act'n'play like RAMMSTEIN and that is what it only could be, yes, utter garbage and one of the by far most worst songs I've heard in 2014... and not only in 2014 but since and in and probably also for years... and that's also lyric-wise total crap, because even it's definitely okay, more than okay, to critize the NSA and their "spy" activities "around the globe", yes, but to believe the bullshit that the German government and secret service(s) wouldn't have know this and wouldn't had been- and surely still are- a part of this is just at least naive bullshit... even it's the old story, because it's pretty easy to blame the oh so arrogant, dumb, power-hungry, and presumptuous U.S. Americans... but that's another and pathologic german neurotic story... and a story that makes me wanna puke again and again!!! Okay, all in all I think we now have really talked enough about negative aspects of "FRISS!" and the "new" (but after all anything but new) TOXPACK, what is there left to say...
This: But not all is bad, definitely not, and after the negative points it's now time for the positive aspects, really about time, and keep in mind that I already wrote that "FRISS!" is anything or everything but a bad album, so here we go: It carries a lot of strong rockin' songs on board with it, for example the great anti-Nazi smasher "NICHTS HÖREN, SEHEN, SAGEN" is a straight and strong rocking total bomb with great arranged verses and hymnal refrain parts and driven forward by pushing guitars and great heavy and full vocals backed up by a stunning rhythm section, great, even the sucking guest vocals by Stephan "DER W" Weidner (BÖHSE ONKELZ/DER W) really wouldn't had been necessary, but okay, a good promo thing it's anyhow I guess. (Btw, don't get why a lot of guys bitch around that TOXPACK make a song against Fascist scumbags, such songs, when they are done good, are always good, and TOXPACK did not only a good but even a great job.) Also "NICHTS BLEIBT WIE ES IST" is a fine example of how great TOXPACK can still be (or at least could be...), also this is pretty much the only song that breathes a little Oi! feeling, but just a feeling, don't get it wrong, because music-wise it's nothing else than a straight anthemic Hard Rocker. My personal favorite is the (maybe even al-) mighty "VERGANGEN, VERGESSEN", a melodic and hymnal, in every positive sense catchy and emotional great Rock anthem, again carried forward by great guitars, and it's really a shame that especially the production of the guitars is so incredible soft and tame. Lyric-wise "NICHTS BLEIBT WIE ES IST" and "VERGANGEN, VERGESSEN" are a great pairing, two nostalgic songs, one, the first one, focussing on the good times of old that you think of gladly and that you try to hold dear to the heart and to reactivate from time to time, the other one, the second one, then focussing more on the dark or fucked up and troubled times and mistakes, misfortunes, and failures that had been and that you never want to repeat again, and both lyrics are done great, really great, also nicely cliché-free. Beside this three masterpieces we also get two not great or masterpiece songs but still pretty decent tracks with the strong burning angry rocker "NIEMAND" and the, hm, not really but let us say "party life" anthem "LA VIDA LOCA", that are no major league songs but that still stand their ground. Ah, and before I forget to mention the title track... "FRISS!" is also one of the great or at least really very strong moments of this album, music- and lyric-wise, and maybe one of the most critical songs on the whole new album here. So, and now to last summary-chapter and the rating...
Music-wise, like already said, expect a mixture out of German Rock and Emo Pop, sometimes better, sometimes worse, and the strongest part surely is the very strong guitar work, no matter if we would talk about the riffs, the leads, or the solos, and its still pretty unique tone. But anyhow TOXPACK should cut this whole Streetcore dingle-dangle, just name it like it is: German Rock (maybe add some Emo Pop and all would be perfect), and then that's it, because anyhow something Hardcore or just Core related you won't find anymore today and also I would question this whole Street thing heavily these days... Lyric-wise expect a, hm, let us say: "colorful" journey from personal and nostalgic topics over outspoken critical and political lyrics to a sheer "Lust for life!" hymn (remember "LA VIDA LOCA"), also sometimes better, and sometimes not. So, if you are searching for a straight and modern poppy and soft Rock (or German Rock) album, then you surely could find by far more crappy albums like "FRISS!"... hm, but why should you search for such an album... just thinking... We get a great artwork, and an artwork that also reminds me a lot of Old School German Punk records and flyers, and a by far too soft, tame, and teethless production sound that finally again does the whole album a lot of harm, yes, and then I guess that's it all what there was to tell about TOXPACK's "FRISS!" from my point of view. So, all in all three masterpieces, one great and two okay songs, and then five really and truly crap songs and one just completly utter garbage track and an all in all pretty boring, foreseeable, and "out-swallowed" musical approach that also robs very large parts of the (at least so far) TOXPACK own identity, anyhow, and this all leads us to the following rating up here and to an album that I honestly not that much need in my music collection, sad but true, because even when I want to listen to an album of a style like this (and even I ask myself why I should) I would definitely grab one of the better ones like this, a more interesting, fresh, and exciting one... but okay, anyhow, I think the new (?) chosen target audience of TOXPACK will anyhow love this album and even if they should loose some of their so far or "old" fans with "FRISS!" they will make up good for this with winning truck loads full of new ones, hm, and they should also storm into the german media control charts sooner or later with "FRISS!", so after all I would say mission accomplished. Last words now, not only in the case of TOXPACK, no, definitely not, but I would swear that they talk the same things in interviews when they should become critized or confronted with critizism of their new album because of this through and through Emo Pop flirting German Rock approach, so here we go: Btw, I still can't stand it when bands label and name their start of the flirting with the mainstream as a "development as a band and of the music" and that there "old fans" simply would be too close minded, nah guys, just show some guts and pride and name it like it is and don't perform such a ridicolous charade, and then all will be fine. Ah, and one more (and last time) again: Just forget about this whole Streetcore thing, would be by far more authentic. /// Andy
(Rating: 6 of 10 points)
(Band site: https://www.facebook.com/toxpack?fref=ts)
(Label site: https://www.facebook.com/bthrecords?ref=ts&fref=ts)