Arizona has birthed some balefully rad metal bands the last few years, from the political grind might of Landmine Marathon to the potent sludge of Godhunter. The latest buzz band to rightfully deserve all the accolades thrown their way is TOAD (Take Over And Destroy) from Tempe, AZ. Do you remember when records were less about genre and more about just cool ass songs and energy combinations? TOAD do. Put on House of GVSB from Girls Against Boys, for example (which sounds nothing like the band I am writing about). Every song was clearly GVSB but full of cool elements that made it all interesting top to bottom. Type O Negative are another good example. Whether you loved them or disliked them (because there was no in between with that classic band), it is undeniable that a Type O record was lush with dynamics.
NWOBHM delivered with the conviction that makes a band like Christian Mistress great is here wed to classic rock matter of factness, the sense that layers of keys and guitar are a fact of life and just part of making good music. Like doomers The Order of Isrofel, I dont think TOAD lose much sleep over whether people think mellow parts or weird interludes that might be a little Zeppeliny are cool or not. I like that the singer of this band is confident in his real singing voice, even when it is a bit freaky and unique. There are enough emotions packed into this killer album that your face will not remain vacant. You will rock and believe. Synth and a touch of retro horror feel creep in like choking vines at the edges of a bleak energy that nonetheless is offset by the strength of the band. “Summer Isle” thumps and stomps like a lower budget Cathedral fronted by a drunk sounding Peter Murphy, while “Terminal Burrowing” kicks balls with the sludge charge of “March Of The Fire Ants”-era Mastodon with crack insanity BM drums.
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There is so much here to comment on that it is almost hard to wrap it all up cohesively, unlike the album itself. “Battle Moon” is sort of epic heavy metal with thrashy black metal vocals that will get you very charged up, while “Split Screen” is a march through grim fortitude that hurts so good like the best rope burn. The impact of this record is pretty immediate and I keep listening to it all the way through, much like the Acid Bath records who I keep seeing them compared to (though there are no Dax type gorgeous swamp rock psych vocals here, more just straight gloom or grime grunt/growling). But there is a sense of wildness and chaotic punk rock aesthetic here that make it absolutely alive. I could easilly listen to this for months on end and probably be just as stoked. 2014 is a great year where bands like TOAD or Black Crown Initiate and The Atlas Moth are just purely not giving a fuck and letting the artistry and love of the music carry them to fantastic places. The music is the first reward, before any financial gain. “The Fly Is Awake” is one of those moments though that every die hard music fan lives for, a stunning foray into classic psych that transports you up and away into lucid dreams that create unforgettable escape from the illusion of limitations we live with everyday in this world. Segue-ing into album closing gypsy acid fuck doom fest “Attrition”, complete with classic metal harmonizing guitars, the powerful energy will make you wonder what the band will do after this release. Three cheers to a band who are already playing for keeps, even if they were never to release another note.