Recommended for fans of: Altar of Plagues, Ash Borer, Wiegedood
I had a lot of different options for this month’s edition of The Synn Report… almost too many, really.
But I decided to dedicate this to German Post/Black/Crust quartet Toadeater for two reasons:
- I’ve really enjoyed writing about them before now
- Their new album is their best yet, and deserves more coverage
So, without further ado… let’s get to the music, shall we?
2019 – CODEX
While the band’s debut album divided fans and reviewers alike over whether to call them “Post-Black Metal” or “Blackened Crust Punk”, the truth is the label really doesn’t matter when the music, and the emotion(s) behind it, is this raw and furious.
Take absolutely abrasive opener “Leviathan”, for example, which takes about 45 seconds to go from zero to face-melting, and then lashes you with twisted tremolo riffs and corrosive chords – interspersed with bleak and brooding passages of sinister, simmering atmosphere – for another four ferocious minutes.
Both “An Ode to My Spy” and “The Disarmed Gaze” make good on those comparisons to early Altar of Plagues you may have seen bandied around (including by yours truly), by delivering a blast-driven assault of ragged vocals and raging distortion, married to an undercurrent of hypnotically heartbreaking melody and poignant passages of acheronian ambience, with the latter also bearing some striking similarities to the intense riffage and righteous indignation of their US counterparts in Woe.
A short “Interlude” allows the listener to catch their breath for a couple of minutes before the rough ‘n’ ready “Parasite” – half punchy, punk-encrusted Black Metal, half immersive Post-Metal introspection – ups the aggression once more, after which the short, savage “In Retrospect” attacks the ears with an almost Gorgoroth level of grim intensity and gloomy groove.
Penultimate track “Sleep” slows things down a little more and errs more towards the punky, Post-Metal side of the band’s identity, right down to the melancholy, meditative mid-section, before exploding into a climactic burst of blackened catharsis for the final few minutes, all of which leads into the ear-scraping distortion and pulse-pounding rhythms of “Codex”, which ends the album in a whirlwind of sound and fury before collapsing back into darkness once more.
2020 – BIT TO EWIGEN DAOGEN
Toadeater‘s second album found them shifting even more towards the “Atmospheric Black Metal” side of the spectrum, with longer, more intricate songs and an even more powerful sense of furious forward-momentum, drawing comparisons with bands like Ash Borer, Wiegedood, and Afsky in the process.
Following the eerie, piano-based introduction of “…Before the Desecrated Sanctuary” the album kicks into high gear with the writhing riffs and relentless drums of “Conquering the Throne”, whose almost out-of-control extremity is overlain with a doomy, overarching atmosphere and underpinned by moments of minimalist melodic ambience whose presence only seems to accentuate the sheer savagery of the rest of the track.
“Crows and Sparrows” is another molten cascade of blistering Black Metal, one which marries scything blastbeats to doomy clean vocals, and juxtaposes grime-flecked grooves with crystal clear melodies, in a perfectly proportioned dynamic of light-and-shade songwriting, after which “Returning the Crown” – the album’s longest, most intricately arranged track – takes things a step further, combining the cathartic energy of early Wolves In The Throne Room with a darker, almost DSBM edge and an even harsher, harder-hitting attack.
It all culminates with simmering slow-burn of “Too Close to the Sun”, whose combination of raw fury, grim grandeur, and dense, dark atmosphere ends the album on a simultaneously tragic yet triumphant note sure to leave you wanting more…
2022 – BEXADDE
…and more you shall have, as the group’s latest album (released earlier this month) is their biggest, best, and boldest effort yet, and while similarities to bands like Altar of Plagues, Ash Borer, and Wiegedood are still more than valid, you can really feel that Toadeater have fully found themselves and come into their on this one.
The real reason for this, which becomes immediately obvious during nearly ten minute opener “Asche”, is down to the songwriting, as the band’s grasp of mood and dynamic – already an important part of their skill set – has improved even further here.
The aforementioned opener, for example, erupts into a howling storm that oscillates between driving Black Metal and rhythmic, almost punky riffs, offset by passages of morbidly majestic atmosphere and pierced by searing, soaring lead melodies (reminiscent of a more mordant and melancholy Dödsrit in places).
Those who enjoyed (if that’s the right word) the oppressively dark and claustrophobic nature of the new Ultha album will no doubt found themselves similarly enamoured with the aptly-named “Let the Darkness Swallow You”, which combines scalding rage, barbed hooks, and desperate, despair-filled vocals beneath a shroud of doomy desolation, all building towards an absolutely devastating climax that represents some of the most dense, and intense, music the band have ever recorded.
With “Lowest Servant” the group take their foot off the accelerator a bit and let the grooves bite a little more (even when the drums are blasting) and the melodies ring out a little longer, which allows those Woe/Wolvhammer/WITTR comparisons to come to the fore a little more – especially during the mesmerisingly melodic finale that practically guarantees you won’t be forgetting this song any time soon.
Bexadde concludes with the titanic “Molten Gold (Down Your Throat)”, whose seething intensity, sinister atmospherics, and shivering melodies provide ample evidence for the claim that Toadeater are the true heirs of White Tomb/Mammal era AoP, and reinforce the fact that this is a band that you need to be listening to.