As I sit here, it’s near 80 degrees on an April afternoon, which is unseasonably warm, and a wonderful breeze and the scent of grills in the neighborhood is wafting through my office window. It’s pretty damn great, I’m not going to lie, but it makes for weird weather when discussing a band that brings icier elements to their sound and might seem more at home during a blizzard.
Iceland’s Toska very much have a vibe that would seem perfect for the darker winter months when ice and snow snarl everything. In fact, the music that we’re discussing today that comprises their debut EP actually was released independently in December, so it’s not like they’re trying to throw a wrench into our brains. But since then, Bindrune Recordings/Eihwaz Recordings nabbed this beast and are giving it a proper reintroduction into the world on a grander scale. That’s for good reason. There’s a lot of really great stuff here from this band who, for the time being, are nameless, faceless souls. Their sound is raw and abrasive but also chockful of colorful melodies and undeniable passion. It’s impossible not to get caught up in this massive storm that strikes quickly and drags you all the way to its finish line seven tracks and 23 minutes later.
“From the Starless Nights” opens the record, a quick instrumental that sets the stage with guitars ringing out and tensions rising. The promise pays off with “Night I – Algid Gales” that rips the lid off the collection of chaos and steamrolls forward. Whispered growls, a recurring element on this record, travel underneath the din, as melodies surge hard and the spirited chorus rivets. There is a rush of power that has a nighttime vibe, and that crashes face-first into “Night II – Throbbing Tumulus” and its dizzying riffs. The vocals are smashed underneath everything but certainly have their say, while the band speeds through, with guitars spilling everywhere and a brief pause letting a thrash assault crash out of the other side. The back end of this is blindingly violent, offering no chance for a breath at all.
“Night III – Iced Spectres” has moody guitars spreading darkness, while the assault comes seemingly out of nowhere before taking a turn toward comic keys and a frosty front. Guitars later cut through that, bringing bloodshed to the forefront again, while the vocals char and mar, and the sounds flood all over the place. “Spirits of the Winter Moon” is another instrumental, a quick interlude built with thunder rumbles and strange keyboards, all bleeding toward “Night IV – The Howling Descent” and its spiraling lead guitar work. The song unloads, with the growls lacerating flesh, and even a strange technical flush standing over all of this. Silence take over, with winds whipping through the pause in the attack, but later there is a new eruption, as guitars mangle, and strong melodies create a blinding glimmer. Closer “Night V – Blizzard Tales” sounds like a perfect Immortal song title, but this one goes more thrashy than black metal at first. The band trudges everywhere, with raspy vocals pelting you like ice chunks, and from there the guitars dominate, the song punishes, and you’re left out cold, trying like hell to keep your cells from freezing and turning black.
Toska’s deeper penetration into the world with the wider release of this EP is good both for the band and eager listeners who scour the Earth for new entities that will further ignite the metal passion in their hearts. This band is raucous and gritty for sure, but they also spit fire on a regular basis and can ignite even the frostiest of situations. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess, and it’ll be exciting to hear what they can do with a full-length record.
For more on the band (it’s currently blank, but whatever), go here: http://toskabm.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/distro/
For more on the label, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/
And here: http://eihwazrecordings.com/