With his spiky, bleached-blonde barnet, ever-present leather jacket and Flying V, Joel Grind resembles the archetypal old-school metal warrior. Either that or a bad guy from Robocop. As frontman for nuclear war obsessed thrashers Toxic Holocaust for the past few years, Grind’s creativity has been unsurpassed, so while on a break from his main band, he decided to record “The Yellowgoat Sessions”, a side-project that pays homage to his musical heroes via the medium of nasty, retro speed metal, something he’s developed quite a knack for.
Handling all the instruments himself, Grind is on familiar territory throughout the record’s 25 minute-odd running time. He isn’t attempting to re-invent the wheel, or even sound that different from his day job, he just wants to crank up the reverb, pound some beers and pretend he’s in a dingy Bay Area dive bar circa 1986. Kicking off with the early Metallica vibes of ‘Hell’s Master of Hell’, the intensity doesn’t let up as Grind just keeps on bashing out three-chord riff after riff, occasionally broken up with an urgent solo. ‘Vengeance Spell’ and the ripping ‘Cross Damnation’ rush by in a blur of Sodom worship while the churning march of ‘Foul Spirit Within’ will have you banging your head involuntarily before you know it.
“The Yellowgoat Sessions” also comes drenched in a decidedly Necro first wave black metal balm. The goat on the front cover is a direct homage to Venom and ‘Hail to Cruelty’ resembles Motorhead jamming with Bathory, with Grind’s vocals sounding demonic and utterly unclean. However, it’s thrash that’s in his blood, and cuts like the ridiculously catchy ‘Black Order’ would have no trouble making the cut for a Toxic Holocaust album, and might give members of Testament cause for alarm should they happen to catch an earful.
Over in a flash, “The Yellowgoat Sessions” are a worthy stopgap for TH fans urgent for a new record, and a profoundly enjoyable one for anyone who likes their thrash to sound irradiated and underground.