Toska [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 27/2/2016]

Toska Fire By The Silos Review Bandcamp Live Review Ode To The Author EP Launch Band Rabea Massaad Ben Minal Dave Hollingworth Rob Chapman Dorje Tour Album

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Anyone who’s ever played a video game will be familiar with the stresses and strains involved in beating the Boss Level. The anxious anticipation that greets the arrival of some hideous, monolithic fucker with fire breath and laser eyes, capable of annihilating you in an instant; the adrenaline surging around your body as you dodge and attack, seeking out a weak spot; the glorious feeling of relief and victory as it finally falls to the ground and you level up.

Toska’s EP launch, celebrating the maiden voyage of Ode To The Author, was their first serious Boss-Level show – and watching them win was fucking fantastic.

Guitarist Rabea Massaad (aka Bea, pronounced like “beer”), drummer Ben Minal, and bassist Dave Hollingworth have been a unit for about a decade or so – and last night, it really showed. These guys have a lot of experience under their belts, not least on YouTube and via their equally awesome (but far more accessible) band Dorje, resulting in an easygoing between-song stage presence and in-song intensity levels that pushed all three musicians right to their own personal cutting edges.

Watching Toska live is like watching three guys standing on the edge of a cliff with gale-force winds at their backs. I’ve seen Toska live several times by now, and from an audience perspective, they hit on the perfect balance between balls-to-the-wall energy and meditative focus at the Boileroom. You get the sense that things could fall apart at any second, but they never do.

The result: Absolute audience immersion, grooves that had most of a 250-capacity room bobbing their heads from the outset, and an electric and electrifying atmosphere for the duration.

For an EP launch marking the very first day that Toska’s music could be heard in all its glory by the world at large, the turnout was incredible, the outcome of a healthy blend of musical mastery, YouTube nous, and Progressive Promotions’ status as Guildford’s premier prog tastemakers. Live, Ode To The Author – which I gave 100% in this review, and was played through in full last night – sounds goddamn vicious, and brand new song A Tall Order, despite its Dream Theater-ish title, marked the start of Toska V2, shifting one notch deeper into the realm of total “I can’t even hear their influences anymore” originality.

With Ode To The Author out now for your listening pleasure and delight, and a victorious EP launch behind them, the question now is: Where do Toska go next? Well, they’re touring with Black Peaks and Palm Reader in April – but beyond that, it takes no effort at all at this point to imagine Toska supporting the likes of Karnivool, Tool, Animals As Leaders, TesseracT, Periphery, Between The Buried And Me, and so on.

Give Toska a year or two, and they’ll get there. For now, get involved immediately. Watching Toska take off is going to be very, very fun.

TMMP RATING: 100% (Unsurprisingly)

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Posted on 28 February 2016

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