Sunday Old School: Toxik

Thrash metal has more or less always been about speed, aggression and ferocity, but all good things, sometimes it’s the technical side that makes it so good. Some of the best bands in the genre focused their musicianship and song writing on being phenomenally gifted technical players, and one of these bands was Toxik. Toxik was formed in 1985 in Peekskill, New York by bass player Lee Erwin and guitarist Josh Christian, initially under the banner, Tokyo. However, shortly after deciding on this name, the group was threatened with legal action by another band who had already trademarked the name and thus, Toxik was born. The band started off by struggling to maintain a stable lineup, with founding member Erwin being amongst those to leave, and drummer Sal Dadabo being asked to join heavy metal heroes Twisted Sister. Eventually however, the band found stability when Christian was joined by vocalist Mike Sanders, drummer Tad Leger and bass player Brian Bonini.

The four members now a sturdy unit, the band found themselves being offered a contract from Roadrunner Records, a proposition which they accepted and finally released their debut album, “World Circus” in 1987. The album was acclaimed by thrash metal fans and the metal press alike, with some considering it one of the best thrash releases of the year, a statement backed by being awarded College Music Journal’s “Best New Metal Album Of The Year” accolade. The album also won them respect amongst their peers and Toxik were offered a spot on the next Metal Massacre compilation, which they contributed to with the song, “Wastelands.”

After touring in support of “World Circus,” the band were dealt a blow when vocalist Sanders decided to leave the group, the reasons for which remain unknown, and Toxik were forced to find a new singer, which they were able to do successfully in the form of Charles Sabin, as well as adding another layer to their sound by recruiting second guitarist Josh Donnelly. This new five piece version set to work on the second album, “Think This,” which was released in 1989, once again through Roadrunner Records. The album featured a striking front cover, which was reminiscent of the infamous movie, “A Clockwork Orange” and was designed by Ed Repka, known for his work with Megadeth, Possessed and Nuclear Assault at the time. The record was once again praised by the metal community, even if more mainstream publications were unable to wrap their heads around it. Despite the praise, the band were unable to record a third album, and in 1992, decided that they should call it a day.

Like many other thrash bands however, they eventually decided to reunite. The decision was announced in 2007 after the successful re-issues of both, “World Circus” and “Think This.” The reformation featured the return of the “World Circus” lineup, but before long the effort was injured by bassist Bonini decided to leave the group. A European tour was also announced but had to be cancelled. Since then, the band has not performed any shows, though they have kept their name alive by releasing the live album, “Dynamo Open Air 1988” in 2007, and a new DVD, “Think Again” last year. Whether or not the band continues remains to be seen, but fans of the more intricate side of thrash will certainly hope they do, as they were without question one of the many treasures one can find when rooting around the 1980s thrash metal movement.

Toxik – “Doors To Hell”

Toxik – “Heart Attack”

Toxik – “Think This”

Toxik – “Machine Dream”