“I thought I told you I was on vacation,” I replied testily, doing my best to keep eyes locked on the glistening brown orbs buried in Steel Druhm‘s simian visage. It was no use; Steel cannot be bent.

“Vacation happens as the Angry Overlord sees fit. You took the oath, don’t break it. And there’s more. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of the arduous hazing process…”

My left elbow tingled slightly. “Well what is it you want me to do?”

“What you were hired to do,” Steel replied flatly, “Review German brutal death metal.”

His furry hand slid a promo across the ebony desk’s mirrorlike surface. The envelope read “… Unique Leader Records.”

I stood up to leave.

“There’s a new Pyrrhon record coming out.”

I stopped, weighing my puny options. “…What was this German band again?”

Cytotoxin, back five years after 2012’s Radiophobia and thankfully not much altered. The same slammy riffing, the same unsparing vocals, the same troubling nuclear disaster fetishism, and the same hyper-fast sweep picked leads – but this time there’s more of them. “Radiatus Generis” wastes no time establishing this, as guitarists Jason Melidonie and Fabrice Töpfer charge through fifteen notes in the first second of the album. They keep going, and after the opener plays out with a Geiger counter-esque ticking gradually joining the final riff, there are few moments devoid of wizardry.

That might read like a transition into complaints about unnecessary technicality, but here’s where Cytotoxin really set themselves apart from similar bands: they write good songs. Songs with melody, personality, and a sense of drama that’s rare in a pigeonholed sub-genre where bands chase down the offensive and the spectacular at the same time. Take the grandiose and bleak opening of “Chernopolis,” which gradually marches downwards into a huge slammy groove, then takes off again at speed. It’s seven minutes long and works because it has structure: the band holds on to riffs for a while, sliding different leads and drum patterns around them, and bringing them back into the mix often. “Chemopolis” even has two guitar solos for good measure, both of which do a great job of differentiating themselves from the album’s hyper-flourishing leads.

Much like RadiophobiaGammageddon has pretty much everything you might want out of brutal tech death. Guitar pyrotechnics are always backed up by an equally techy line popping out of a present and well-rounded bass. The kick drum sounds like a kick drum, the snare punches right through the mix without being overbearing, and the kit just sounds downright brutal, even in the understated fill before the end of “Gammageddon.” As always, Sebastian Grihm puts out a vocal performance that few could match, hitting every point between gurgling slam gutturals and pig squeals while managing to enunciate remarkably well in his mid-range. I have little to complain about in terms of performance and production, but as usual, this is an album that’s a bit of a chore to listen to all the way through because it’s so goddamn compressed. At 39 minutes it’s still within acceptable bounds for something this brutal, but I find myself a bit fatigued by the time “Antigenesis” comes around. This is an album I’d gladly listen to twice in a row if it was even DR8, but alas it is not so.

Gammageddon succeeds where it needs to and, save for a standard level of overcompression, it avoids the typical issues with brutal tech death. I may not love the master and still think the band’s whole Chernobyl schtick falls into the “too soon” category, but neither will stop me from recommending this album. Cytotoxin once again failed to make the bad album that one might expect given a band with this many gimmicks, and as far as hyper-tech metal goes, this is the album to beat in 2017. If you’re disappointed by this year’s tech death offerings, 1 Gammageddon might win you over still.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 52 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader records
Websites: cytotoxin.de | facebook.com/cytotoxin
Releases Worldwide: July 21st, 2017

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I still haven’t gotten around to Origin, and thanks to Diabolus for covering that one with an excellent review.
  2. 6 including an interlude at DR10

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  • Kevin Taylor

    This i’ll do just fine until Archspire’s record later this year. Loving the embedded track.

    • ArtifeX

      Check the new Decrepit Birth also, might help with the waiting.

    • Kronos

      I’ll be reviewing that one as well. Looking forward to it.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    After that intro, all I want is for Kronos to write an AMG fanfic.

    • No.

      • WhamBamSam

        What if we then adapted it into a Jorn concept album?

        • I’m listening….

          • Nukenado

            I was thinking an Avantasia concept record.

          • WhamBamSam

            I mean, you can get him to sing on pretty much anything for an album or two.

            [jorn]Brutal Kronos, from his travels returned
            To overlords, whose fierce anger burned
            Don’t you deny
            Don’t try to pretend
            Don’t you know
            That Steel doesn’t bend?

            OOOhhhooohhhhoh[/jorn]

  • WhamBamSam

    This convinced me to listen to something I’d have otherwise probably not bothered with and I wound up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. This is why I appreciate your services, voluntary or otherwise. Good to have you back, Kronos.

    • Kronos

      Thanks.

  • welyyt

    GDMMDGEDDOI?

    The embedded track rocks and the vocals are really good, I’ll check this out for sure despite the hideous cover art. Welcome back Kronos; you’ve been missed, you brutal wordsmith. Also, are you guys gonna review the new Decrepit Birth?

    • Kronos

      Thanks for the kind words. Somebody is on that decrepit birth album, but it’s not me.

      • welyyt

        Got it. What do you think about their last two?

        • Kronos

          Honestly haven’t listened to them in ages.

  • Mollusc

    “Excellent writing, Kronos,” said Steel Druhm languorously, “you see, we know what’s best for you.”
    “I am eternally grateful.” Kronos stood with his arms akimbo, glowering.
    “I particularly like the bit about my glistening, brown orbs.”
    “I bet you do.”
    “Keep this up and you can have an extra 5 minutes gazing upon the Sphere ov Trvness… and have you been working out? There’s something different about you…”
    “Thank you and yes. I’m wearing my new concrete corset.”

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      And upon hearing that Kronos was wearing his new concrete corset, Steel Druhm promptly made him jump off board. No grave but the sea for Kronos.

      • Nukenado

        Kronos slid under the surface, hitting true lows.
        But suddenly, the sea parted, and Kronos fell onto the seafloor. He stepped on something unbrvtal, and sensing danger, smelled the air.
        A mixture of cheese and hot chocolate. Kronos’ heart sank, and he remembered that dreadful desk.

        In the AMG offices, there are a few abandoned desks. He remembers what one of them was like. Bright, cheery, denim and melodic. Even after the Steel cleansing (with goat blood) the unbrvtalness remained.

        “Oh hi, Kronos!” a voice similar to the Angry Overlord’s, only high pitched and disgustingly cheery.
        Kronos recalled the drum track to an Origin album, but his thoughts were interrupted by a slow and untechnical guitar line.
        The sea closes, and Kronos sees a tattered denim jacket, with a patch with that dreadful design.
        “Looks like you need a 5.0.”

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Epic! How do I clap here?

          • Nukenado

            Clap not, but clasp yur hands and pray to the Jørnsphere in the sky, for HMG lurks always in the shadows.

      • Mollusc

        Uh oh, now we’re in for it! Just everyone stay calm and don’t mention the “A” word…!

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Well, I didn’t…

          • Mollusc

            Best not mention not mentioning it!

    • This has all taken a dark turn.

      • Mollusc

        It was only meant to be a reference to the mention of a ‘concrete corset” in the embedded track! Both review and said track I thoroughly enjoyed. I listened to a bit of their previous album, and although Gammageddon’s master is compressed I think the mix is quite punchy and well balanced (i.e. an improvement).

  • The Dude

    Kronos ? Wasn’t that guy dead (or on some sabbatical of sorts) ? Seriously though, long time lurker finally posting just to say welcome back !! Your reviews are the ones that most match my tastes and I was really starting to miss them.
    I didn’t even look at the score, let alone read the review, I just got hyped when I saw Kronos wrote something so I have nothing particularly relevant to say. Except maybe that someone should review the latest Shadow of Intent, great record.

    • Kronos

      That last SOI record was embarrassingly good. I haven’t had time to invest in the new one because it looked really long, but it’s on my list. Thanks for commenting! It’s good to hear from longtime readers like you.

      • welyyt

        The new Shadow of Intent is great stuff; some of the songs are needlessly long, but it’s rarely boring and the symphonic elements fit in nicely without an impact on overall heaviness. It’s better than the last one imo.

        • Kronos

          I look forward to hearing it. The biggest problem with the last one was editing as well, especially the dozen or so unnecessary breakdowns. Unfortunately I’m beginning another (brief!) sabbatical at the moment, but there are more reviews on the way. It will be like I never even left (again).

  • Nukenado

    “Nuclear disaster fetishism”
    Instant add to wishlist.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    50 shades of brown!

  • Me

    They’re very clean cut and presentable….and brutal.

    • Nag Dammit

      Their metal guys their Nanas would be proud of.

  • Matt slatz

    Album cover looks alot like casting fire in elder scrolls…..music is good

  • You should fix the tag problem. Change “Review” to “Reviews” or delete it. When you click “Reviews” menu in the top menu list, you can’t see some articles tagged as “Review”, without “s” of “Reviews.” Unless it is what you intend to do.

  • jolly cooperation

    Yay, Kronos is back!

  • Nag Dammit

    Nice review man.

  • Leonmed

    Thanks for your work! Most enjoyable tech-death release from 2017. for me, so far, seems to be Exocrine “Ascension” (reminds me of Gorod , and i enjoy Gorod a lot)

  • Deathmachine

    Pretty solid slab of tech death, the pig squeals are really annoying though. Also, that cover art is VERY similar to Suffocation – Despise the Sun.

  • C R

    I like to think of the individual bands in these sort of micro genres as their own thing. Cytotoxin brings many different aspects of all genres of death metal that all make this sweet, technical ear pie.