Hemotoxin – Restructure the Molded Mind Review

In 2016 I reviewed the sophomore album by California’s Hemotoxin, entitled Biological Enslavement. It was a not-unwelcome slice of death-thrash with an eye for the old-school and a proclivity for the technical, though it suffered from indistinct song-writing. Almost 4 years later in 2020, its successor called Restructure the Molded Mind is set for release. 2020 has thus far proven to be a pretty shitty time to be alive but perhaps some raucous death-thrash was exactly what I needed to reinvigorate myself. How do I feel following a dozen listens?

As previously, Molded Mind evokes that era when thrash metal was becoming death metal, exhibiting a sound which doesn’t entirely sit in either camp but which nonetheless strongly prioritizes The Riff. This music has a primal energy but is executed with a flair for the technical which elevates it from the most neanderthalic thrash or death. Hemotoxin cites Death and Atheist as particular influences which make sense as although the sounds aren’t quite the same, both of these bands had an eye for more than mere violence. In fact, I’d also suggest Artillery as a comparator, though Molded Mind is much more chaotic. In all, this approach forges a sound seemingly purpose-built for an awesome live show: groovy, buzz sawing guitars1, chaotic percussion and raw intensity. It’s certainly attention-demanding stuff.

I very much appreciate the record’s brevity and directness. It has a zero bullshit approach: zero overlong introductions, zero atmospheric interludes, zero passages in which you don’t feel like the band is going 100%. There are 8 tracks, only 1 of which exceeds 4 minutes, and Molded Mind only runs for 29 minutes. More bands should adopt this approach and remind themselves that Reign in Blood only ran for a similar duration. I have no interest in your 75-minute progressive death-thrash masterwork. There’s a refreshing lack of pretension and I felt more compelled to listen closely to the fewer minutes that were actually here. In particular, “Legions of Alienation,” “Execution” and the title track are the best 3 songs on offer. Each feels slightly more structured than the remainder of the album as they all feature climactic finales which have grown across their respective tracks. Moreover, “Legions of Alienation” has some great guitar moments such as the badass transition after the introduction, the groovy riff at 0:50 and the short breakdown in its second half.

But the other side of the intensity and kinetic approach is the lack of dynamism. Even though the guitar leads and tempo change very frequently, there’s a surprising lack of it; in fact, it’s exactly this overwhelming frequency of shifts that leads to the lack of dynamism. It feels as if all elements are always there and there’s too much going on at any one time. Molded Mind features busy guitars, busy drumming, busy bass and busy vocals. Songs bleed together as a result, and it’s difficult to ascertain individual melodies, or even individual songs, in the melee. The riffs are reasonably strong, but not strong enough to distinguish tracks. Hemotoxin have written a formulaic album with similar types of songs, which is fine if the execution is perfect, but here it’s only decent. Even at only 29 minutes, the bleeding between tracks encourages the view that not every moment fully justifies itself. For example, there was a point in my note-taking where I briefly read a text and completely missed that “Corrupted Flesh” had ended and “Automation” had begun.

Overall, my view of Molded Mind is not so different from my view of Biological Enslavement. The individual qualities are good, exemplified by the riffs, musicianship and pretentiousnessless2. I also admire the production which is grindy and old school, but clear enough to pick apart all of the instrumentation. But I’m not ultimately compelled to listen to the album all the way through given that the 29 minutes blur and individual tracks do not (generally) stand out. Hemotoxin have all the tools but haven’t yet built something I can easily recommend to the general metal listener; perhaps just those particular fans of late 80s death-thrash.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Unspeakable Axe Records
Websites: facebook.com/hemotoxin | hemotoxin.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: March 16th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. It should here be noted that Cherd made the following inquiry in our internal channels: “what does HM-2 mean?”. This is the type of individual we’re hiring now.
  2. From this moment henceforth, pretentiousnessless is an acceptable word.
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