REVIEW: Toska - Toska EP

TOSKA
TOSKA
EIHWAZ RECORDINGS

Toska's Self-titled EP (though so long it might as well be an album) is an odd egg within the now faded, and generally iffy, genre of black-metal. It rests on old tropes, winter themed ambiances and off-kilter vocal style, whilst refusing to touch upon the hipster fueled nuances of bands like DEAFHEAVEN. Instead of a constant wall of sound, such as with the latter mentioned band, Toska bothers to provide you with clean and precise song work. The attention to quality is here, and the band made sure that the music matches their themes and speaks for them. However, this gives way to a glaring issue: nothing Toska does is new, groundbreaking, or original.

Yes, the entirety of Toska's Self-tited EP is a collection of similar sounds, similar atmospheres, and even it's cover, though appealing, doesn't really stand out. Though, a person could probably attribute this to the tired expectations of the genre. Forever has black metal been doing the same things, changing only recently, and when a band tries to stick too much to the tropes - it's bound to sound just like everything else out there. Why? Because every straight-forward black-metal band practically does the same things, the content only ever changing slightly. There is only so much that can be done before a band reaches too far and becomes something it really isn't; not black-metal. In that regard, you have to give Toska's EP some respect. It reaches into the barrel and pieces together something as new as it possibly can, even if they don't really work (especially the vocals).

Can I talk about the vocals? Yes, do not expect to be particularly entranced, moved, terrified, or feel anything for the vocals as you probably will be inadvertently ignoring them throughout the majority of this EP. For the most part, they are hidden well beneath the music and are little more then unintelligible raspy whispers and grumblings. At times, they might pick up, but by that time your ear is so used to fazing out their existence that you'll barely notice they are there. I'm almost certain that this was some attempt to sound otherworldly, but it comes off rather pointless.

Really, I do appreciate the effort this Icelandic band has put forth. The heart was there, the talent most certainly, but Toska absolutely drowns in its influences - drawing way too much from other bands and, therefore, losing it's own identity. If only the band had taken the effort to do something a little different, a little less expected.