Patrik Svendsen, vocalist and guitarist for Norway’s Tonic Breed recently contacted Erik from TOTD to request I review their Outsold Album. Erik passed along the information and before long Patrik and I were in communication and he graciously sent me their debut album, On The Brink of Extinction and Outsold, their newest album. No offense to the band, but prior to our contact I had never heard of Tonic Breed. Usually when I think of Norway I think of the beautiful scenery, Lefse, which is a delicious seasonal treat, and DarkThrone. This would be the last band Fenriz, from DarkThrone, would have on his radio station, largely due to Tonic Breed’s love of metalcore. While deathcore is still holding on, metalcore is largely a misnomer, nowadays. You don’t really hear about bands playing this style any longer.
On The Brink of Extinction was a decent debut. I feel some of the tunes screamed to go all out balls thrash metal, but the entire album is stuck in a mid-paced groove metal pattern and some of the grooves are outstanding. Much of the album reminds me of a heavier Black album, from Metallica, with Patrik sounding pretty close to Hetfield and Araya throughout the album. It’s not until the final song where the music gets into a killer thrash metal pace and this speed should have been incorporated more. But I have to give Tonic Breed props for putting out a well produced album with fine musicianship. Their latest album, Outsold, increases the speed by leaps and bounds. They still retain their groove metal pattern; however the thrash metal influence is all over the place and by and large Outsold crushes their debut.
“Strife” opens the album with keyboards and at the 1.50 mark the thrash metal comes through your speakers before erupting into a furious groove and the sound on Outsold reminds me of Forbidden’s first 2 perfect albums, especially with Patrik doing a killer Russ Anderson impression, throughout much of this album. Awesome sounding bass guitar on “Strife” and a very catchy chorus, makes this a great opening song. “Fifth Estate” come roaring through, as another thrash track. Again, really strong Forbidden thrash moments and the 1.44 part has similar Slayer “War Ensemble” thrash and vocal attacks. Well done. A Holy Shit moment is the title track, with the opening snare attack, then the bass guitar comes in, right before the guitars attack you with a killer crunch and the groove is monstrous, with well done drums, almost syncopated and I just want to pick up sky scrapers and piledrive them into the ground again and again and again. Then the song gets into thrash metal speed before returning to the groove. The best song on the album. The varying speeds on this album are much more dynamic then on their debut and I am hopeful their future music continues with the thrash metal influence. The middle section has a part similar to Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, with the slow, melodic moments, before the crunch returns. The longest track is the instrumental, at over 8 minutes, “Borregaard”, has Metallica similarities of “Call of Ktulu”, “Fade to Black” and “Orion” all wrapped in one. They wear the Metallica influence on their sleeve, big time, with this tune, as well as some above average guitar solos.
For a band that is unsigned Tonic Breed’s Outsold is quite professional and as with their debut, the booklet contains lyrics, pictures and is just well designed, and with a great production. For an unsigned act Outsold has one of the best productions I have heard in a long time. Simply put it’s a fantastic album. Since the band requested me to do the review, I will point out 3 items which are only meant to help Tonic Breed, because I wish for the band to succeed. #1, I love all the influences they incorporate on Outsold and their sound in general, however they have to become a little more original. With today’s ever growing music scene a band has to inject some more originality into their sound in order to stand out and get noticed a bit more. #2, with an average song length of 6 minutes plus, try trimming down the length of a few of the songs. #3, is actually big, believe it or not, no more shitty album covers. Patrik and Tonic Breed, I really like your debut and Outsold is a gem of an album, I love it, but the album covers are not cutting it. The cover drawing for On the Brink of Extinction, I cannot make out what the hell is going on. To me it looks like a gargantuan hourglass trapped in powerlines, The album name is dark, and one cannot read it clearly. The band logo is slap dashed together, with little thought. For the Outsold album cover, the new band logo has got to go. Bush league, at best. The album cover is dark and the choppers, in the sky, are dark and the people in the front, really this is a stinker of an album cover.
There were a lot of excellent albums in the 80’s and 90’s that went unnoticed, in record stores, when they existed, due to shitty covers and logos, only to find out decades later they were some of the best albums of that time period. Presentation does make an impact, especially if you want to get noticed by legitimate distro/companies out there. Spend time developing a kick ass band logo, Tonic Breed, and your next album cover, make it striking, eye-catching and professional. You want something to scream, buy me muthafucker, we are Tonic Breed and we create thrash metal to bash your fuckin head against the stage and then when you’ve had enough we will pick up your lifeless body and use it as a rag to clean up the blood drenched stage!!! I encourage fans of thrash/groove to like Tonic Breed’s FB page and buy their albums. Their debut is really good and Outsold is a goddamn monster!![Visit the band's website]