"Confusion, Headache, Diarrhea"

By Dr. Abner Mality

The frenzied chaos of modern living which seems to have us all headed directly into a concrete wall finds its musical embodiment with Toxic Shock Syndrome. This is modern extreme metal at its queasiest and most jagged...a mixture of jazzed out deathcore, hyperspeed mathematical riffing and ultra-black humor. Be warned, this is not death or grind for old schoolers who want to feel fuzzy nostalgia with easy to digest riffs.

Like many bands of its ilk, Toxic Shock Syndrome is a hit and miss proposition. When it hits, it really captures the brutality and out of control decay of 21st century consumerist America. When it misses, it sounds like a pretentious mess. It is definitely not easy listening and even the good parts take more than one listen to latch onto. Opening cut "Murder Us In Text" is a real strong mash-up of brutal death with some progressive jazzy elements. I loved the "Incarceration Laceration/Laceration Incarceration" one-two punch, especially the very cool sounding intro and the outrage of "Brainwashed By Bullshit" is something I can agree with. Elsewhere, it's not really a style I warm to. "Bunnies Are Cute But Their Intestines Are Not" is a smug and hipsterish title. The grumbling low growls and the constant "yah-yah-yah" barking Schnauzer vocals are real old hat by now and get tiresome quickly. The trick of having happy, silly jazz music lead directly into blasting death is kind of old, too.

But keep in mind this is the first effort from Toxic Shock Syndrome. They are the musical equivalent of a horrible overnight experience in an inner city emergency room and I think that's just the mood they were aiming for. By now, you should know if this is something you need to have...