Instrumental and/or Progressive Metal are incredibly tricky beasts to pull off well. Aside from the obvious chops required to make music without vocals that retain attention and engages in its own right, but to pull it off with showing heart and emotion too is an entirely different matter. Formed in 2015 by three prominent UK-based, virtuoso musicians, Toska turned heads with their debut EP Ode To The Author, and based on the technical prowess on this new full-length Fire By The Silos (both self-released), and it is easy to see why.
Fire By The Silos packs in a wealth of influence in their sound and thus proves hard to categorise other than by casting it into the vast Progressive Metal arena, but its counterparts are easy to point out as opposed to this being a creation seen as something new. The moody opener of ‘The Herd’ acts as a short and gradually building opening gambit before ‘A Tall Order’ brings plenty more heaviness and a post-Metal vibe, veering between weighty riffs and more mellow passages, before ‘Abomasum’ continues with a more serene, Post-Rock like focus. The title track is led by spoken word passages and acts as sort of interlude before the album’s highlight ‘When Genghis Wakes’ feels reminiscent of a Metal worshipping Von Hertzen Brothers in its guitar tone and catchy yet complex structuring.
Whilst Fire By The Silos is wealthy in style and technical depth, however, it lacks in real emotion or poignancy and instead feels more like a showcase, almost like the individual members are showing off. While the technique is certainly impressive, this release is one that feels cold and distant and doesn’t manage to stick with you afterwards.
In such an early stage of their career and with some clear talent at their disposal, Toska definitely have enough potential to make an impact in the ever-expanding and fertile scene of British Progressive Metal, and Fire By The Silos is certainly worth a curious listen. Sadly, though, as with most cases of style over substance, it does all feel somewhat mechanical and lacking rather than a sonic, emotive journey that fully pulls you in.