Toska – ‘Ode To The Author’ [Review]
Progressive metal is often dismissed for being too something. Self-indulgent. Flat. Soulless. Etc.
Sometimes, the criticism is justified; at other times, it isn’t.
In Toska’s case, none of the above apply. This is progressive metal with heart, soul, and spirit – not to mention the kind of forward-thinking intelligence that defines the best the genre has to offer.
From the moment Chalk Teeth crashed into existence within the depths of my ear-holes, I was hooked. Watching Toska slowly emerge into the light of the UK’s underground arena over the course of several live shows, making notes as they tinkered with tones and dynamic approaches to arrive in a unique space they can call their own, has been a fascinating experience. Knowing that Ode To The Author – the first on-record evidence of Toska’s indisputable greatness – is going to suck you in and leave you spellbound brings a Cheshire Cat-style grin to my face.
This EP defies all conventional critical crutches. It’s possible to divine influences as diverse as Karnivool, Incubus, Porcupine Tree, TesseracT and Limp Bizkit from Ode To The Author‘s note clusters, but making direct comparisons to any existing bands is just impossible. Toska are unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.
This is not pastiche music from the past, a retromanic hack job smacked together in the hope of pulling nostalgic strings. Toska also aren’t composing currently-instrumental tunes while giving the side-eye to what’s trendy and cool right now. No fucks are given – and that’s the way it should be.
Ode To The Author‘s four main tracks, its pair of unsettling interludes, the mass of massive riffs, cheekbone-breaking grooves, and mind-pretzelling time signature shifts that make it what it is are all so seamlessly woven together that nothing short of a deeply detailed full-band transcription book read aloud by Morgan Freeman and listened to while immersed in an Oculus Rift-facilitated interstellar road trip as your mind attempts to come to grips with a life-threatening overdose of industrial-grade hallucinogenics* will even come close to conveying the experience appropriately.
Alternatively, you could sum it up this way:
Now you hear it.
Now you don’t.
When listening to Ode To The Author, past and present fall away, leaving only one time perspective – and one conclusion – remaining. Toska are the future of progressive metal – and as hype-heavy as that statement may be, these guys have the talent and ambition to back it up.
TMMP RATING: 100%
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*In case it needs saying: Do hugs, not drugs.