(This is Vonlughlio’s review of the newest album by the Czech extreme metal band !T.O.O.H.!, which is out now via Lavadome Productions.)
This time around I will take the chance to write about a project named T.O.O.H. from Czechia that has been around since 1990 as Devastator and changed to their current name in 1993. The responsible parties for this output are brothers Josef (bass, guitars, and vocals) and Jan (drums, vocals).
From 1995 to 1998 they released demos that revealed fantastic musicianship with its raw production which showcased the base of the path this band would take. It was not until the year 2000 that we received their first album From Higher Will, which showed strong song structures with the style of death/grind and bits and pieces of progressive inclinations. It surely is among my favorite debut albums by a band and has a special place in my heart (along with all their albums).
Their second offering, Pod Vladou Bice, continued from their previous effort but the progressive bits were more evident. They continued to sing in their native tongue and the themes were consistent too. The vocals were capable of transmitting emotions of evil and depravity right along with the music.
After this release the band got some recognition in the underground and signed with Earache Records to release their 2005 album Order and Punishment, in which they used English instead of their native tongue. This album is great, not like their debut but a great addition to their catalogue. Due to reasons I am not 100% sure of, the band then just disappeared. That was a shame but it happens more than I would like in underground projects.
But hope is the last thing one loses and the band in 2012 released an EP digitally entitled Z teraira Do Kolumbaria that consisted of three songs which showed a different approach in the vocal department, but still delivered punishing music with their key signature style. A year later they released their album Democratic Solution. I thought it would continue the approach of the preceding EP, but instead took a different tack with a cleaner production and the incorporation of keyboards. To be honest, that album was a hit-and-miss for me; some songs were OK and others I did not like. Nevertheless, I admired how they were not afraid to try new things in their music.
After seven more years, last November they released their latest album Free Speech via Lavadome Productions (a label that I adore) and this release is back to form, to say the least. While they incorporate a clean production and keyboards, this dos not distract from the complexity in the changes within the songs’ structures. As mentioned before, the vocals are handled differently (to some extent) than in the early works but are still capable of transmitting the feelings of insanity and rage. The album is addictive and keeps one engaged throughout the 34 minutes of its duration, and it has a good blend of death/grind with progressive elements as to the guitar work, and keyboards that are key elements along with great drumming that is a driving force by itself.
The more I listen, the more I enjoy the album. I hope this band will continue to release music in the future, and in collaboration with Lavadome Productions. Give it a listen and you may like it as much as I do: