Release Date: 02/11/18
Genre: Progressive Metal/Post-Rock
Produced By: Mark Roberts and Rabea Massaad
Toska have been building quite a bit of a name for themselves over the past year or so. With stellar sets at ArcTanGent and an incredibly well-received EP in Ode To The Author, the trio have been threatening to become a big name within the progressive and instrumental music scene. They combine elements from almost every quarter of what can be considered progressive music; the industrial pummelling of SikTh and Messugah, the more soulful intricate guitar passages of Mastodon, and even some cinematic shoegaze influences give Toska a very wide palette to play with. Given their influences it is not surprising they have set very lofty ambitions for themselves on their debut full-length record, ‘Fire By The Silos’.
The album is set in a fairly typical dystopian future where everything is controlled by the state and one runs the risk of losing everything the minute they stop being useful. It is pretty standard affair but works really well in practice due to the lack of details. There are a few tracks spread throughout where a spoken word vocal provides what are basically cliff notes, but for the most part the instrumentation is all we have to go off. The title track gives you an outline of the world Toska have created and leaves your mind to add in the colour and the details. It is almost War of the Worlds-esque with a huge amount of character and emotion in the voiceover while odd little inflections of sound fade in and out around it. Some will find the voiceover here overly dramatic but it definitely works for the more theatrical and cinematic sound Toska are going for.
Instrumental concept records are very difficult to pull off and the huge amount of emotion Toska manage to weave into each of these tracks is a great testament to the skill of the musicians involved. Even more impressive is the way in which each song has a clear purpose in propelling the story of Fire By The Silos forward. Opening track ‘The Herd’ sounds like four minutes of the band tuning up but acts as a cinematic snapshot of the drone of the world you are entering. It’s surprisingly effective and means that by the time it ends you are fully immersed. In addition to this, each song itself is constantly driving forwards, with more ideas and riffs contained in tracks like ‘A Tall Order’ and ‘Abomassum’ than some bands will have in their entire career.
There is a definite and distinct mood to each song which further helps everything to stay fresh. ‘Congress’ feels like you are within the eye of the storm as one of the calmer moments on the record, whereas ‘When Ghengis Wakes’ sounds like everything has finally reached breaking point and could easily be the score to the final act of an action film. ‘Prayermonger’ serves as an all too real warning about where the future of the human race could be heading, ending with the particularly haunting line, ‘We are in the age of self, when what we really need is the age of all’.
Fire By The Silos is a rarity in instrumental music in the sheer amount of emotion it manages to evoke. Often these records are very impressive technically, but everything feels almost too mechanical and leaves the listener feeling a bit cold. In being able to retain a more human element within their music, Toska have set out their stall to be one of the more interesting and unique acts within the genre. With the cinematic scope which they have approached their debut album, it hints that something really special might be possible a few records down the line.
Recommended Tracks: ‘When Ghengis Wakes’