Theotoxin – Fragment: Erhabenheit Review

There’s no question that the latest Cytotoxin absolutely destroys. Its powerful and vicious approach touches me right in my technical sweet spot, and as the year goes on, Nuklearth‘s bleak, post-apocalyptic world begins to seem more and more familiar as the coronavirus continues its assault upon our very cells. It’s getting easier everyday to believe Freddy’s old maxim, “God is dead.” But what has led to our having to walk alone down the open road of this godless endeavor? The answer escaped me until, during one of my daily swims through the promo sump, I happened upon an empty prescription bottle. “Theotoxin 5mg” the label read, and the patient’s name upon it? “God.” Shit. So that’s how He died. Whoever sent Cytotoxin to destroy our cells must have sent Theotoxin to destroy our only means of deliverance. If Nuklearth is the sound of our species being destroyed, Fragment: Erhabenheit is the sound of the sinister spiritual forces setting said destruction in motion.

Austria’s Theotoxin are a busy bunch, releasing this, their third full-length since their 2016 formation. Like any good diety-killing outfit, they peddle wares that tread the line between black metal and death metal and should find acceptance amongst the fandoms of the Behemoths, Belphegors, and Mglas of the world. While well-versed in atmosphere, Theotoxin wastes no time setting the tone on Fragment: Erhabenheit. Opening single “Golden Tomb” sees the band kicking down the temple door with a thunderous auger of a riff before the blast beats arrive and dynamic vocalist Ragnar makes his presence known. Equally adept at black metal shrieks, powerful death metal roars, and ritualistic shouts, Ragnar is the key to the track’s success, elevating the already fantastic music to soaring heights.

And, for the most part, this strong start carries its momentum through the rest of the varied track list. “Obscure Divinations” dials up the death metal and develops some great contrast by throwing some uplifting major-key swells behind the minor-key black metal. “Prayer” builds tension to a blackened crescendo, “Two Ancient Spirits” is a mid-paced, synth-laden Dimmu Borgiristic love song, and “Through Hundreds of Years” employs a mournful melodeath tremolo, a triumphant riff, and perhaps Ragnar’s most dynamic vocal performance on the record. The band saves their most aggressive assault for album highlight “Philosopher,” a track that simply pummels the listener with riff after thrashing, angular riff.

While overall Fragment: Erhabenheit is nothing groundbreaking, a massively rich production, great songwriting, and stellar performances place it above many albums of the same style. Flo “Plaguebringer” Musil’s drums land with serious bite, his intricate fills adding tremendous depth to the songs, especially “Through Hundreds of Years.” Martin Frick and Fabian Rauter are black metal guitar (anti-)gods in my book, and their tremolos have wormed their way into my brain, appearing at random times while I’m doing various tasks throughout the day. The seven tracks add up to 44 minutes, and the varied songwriting makes it easy to consume as a whole. Nevertheless, if I had to pick standouts, I’d go with “Golden Tomb,” “Prayer,” and “Philosopher.”

It cannot be a coincidence that Cytotoxin and Theotoxin are releasing new albums within weeks of each other in this, the year of Our End, 2020. A two-pronged attack is underway, and both humanity and divinity are caught in the crosshairs. Theotoxin don’t do anything new on Fragment: Erhabenheit, but what they do, they do convincingly and with passion. Behemoth may be living out their apostasy against the church of trve blackened death metal, but swallow some Theotoxin — with a full eight ounces of water, of course — if you’re looking for some faithful unfaithfulness.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Art of Propaganda Records
Websites: theotoxin.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/theotoxinofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 11th, 2020

« »