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Saturday, November 10, 2012

REVIEW: Toluca - Act I (2012)

Artist: Toluca
Album: Act I
Country: Russia (Moscow)
Release Date: October 12th, 2012
Genre: Atmospheric black metal/screamo

Summary: "Act I" is not only surprisingly good for such a new and underexposed band: it's also a standout among its renowned stylistic peers.

Review, tracklist, sample song, and download are after the jump. 

No one has any idea where Toluca came from.

Well, this might not be completely true: their Bandcamp lists them as being a black metal group from Moscow, but this is as much information as anyone has on them, as their Bandcamp represents their only known presence on the Internet. They lack a website or a Facebook page, and the only way people can discover them is through their Bandcamp or through another website or blog linking to their Bandcamp. However, although they are undoubtedly a very under-the-radar act, their debut EP sounds like the work of a much more experienced group of musicians. A 25-minute voyage through the realms of black metal, screamo, post-rock, and sludge metal, Act I is not only surprisingly good for such a new band: it's also a standout among many of its renowned stylistic peers. The furiously emotional black metal framework of Act I bring to mind other atmospheric black metal acts such as Wolves in the Throne Room, while the absolutely stellar basswork and its unusual prominence in the mix somewhat mirrors European-style screamo acts such as Sed Non Satiata and Funeral Diner. Toluca also liberally incorporate post-rock sections into the five tracks presented on Act I. For many so-called "post-black metal" groups, this comes off as a poorly-thought out gimmick, but Toluca make absolutely stellar use of these elements, mirroring the murky, desolate, and supremely beautiful assault of Altar of Plagues far more than they do the whimsical shoegaze flourishes of Alcest or An Autumn for Crippled Children. Here, the post-rock sections complement rather than overwhelm the EP's screamo-heavy black metal, and this sense of restraint and placement is ultimately what allows Toluca's debut to overshadow legions of similar, far more experienced acts. If you are a fan of this kind of music, you would be doing yourself an absolute disservice not to give one of the most out-of-nowhere, engaging, and beautiful black metal efforts of the year. We can only hope than a second act lies somewhere in the near future.


Originally written for Sputnik Music
1. Ronove (4:39)
2. Seere (5:01)
3. Vephar (5:49)
4. Fokalor (4:28)
5. Astaroth (5:14)

Duration - 25:11 


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