Monday, 5 January 2015

Take Over And Destroy - Vacant Face (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 19/08/2014
Label: Comfort Point Records

‘Vacant Face’ CD/DD track listing:

1). Vacant Face (04:32)
2). Summer Isle (03:52)
3). Glance Away (04:40)
4). Split Screen (03:46)
5). Terminal Burrowing (07:37)
6). Deep End (04:11)
7). Dominance Shifts (03:06)
8). Battle Moon (03:37)
9). Where Seasons Lay (02:28)
10). The Fly Is Awake (01:44)
11). Attrition (06:22)

Take Over And Destroy is:

Alex Banks Rollins | Guitars
Peter Porter | Organ
Nate Garrett | Guitars
Jason Tomaszewski | Drums
Dylan Thomas | Bass
Andrew Leemont | Vocals


'You probably don't know Take Over And Destroy (TOAD), the six-piece from Arizona, US. Despite glowing coverage of last year's 'Endless Night' EP from some of the more respectable corners of metal coverage, their online presence remains relatively feeble and their releases available from few outlets. It's a real shame, as TOAD are something special and deserve to be heard by a far wider audience.

This is seen on their latest release, 'Vacant Face', released via Comfort Point, the album fans knew TOAD could make. Their last EP saw them lumped alongside bands such as Kvelertak (and by extension Turbonegro), riding the whole black/death n' roll sound, yet to me had a far more pronounced Entombed vibe. TOAD didn't turn up wanting to start a party, it just kinda happened. While the 'Wolverine Blues' vibes aren't as pronounced as they were on the 'Endless Night' EP, the traces are there in the latent energy and surreptitious fun of each track.  

This is metal done for and by weirdos, the weirdos who never listened to anyone else, who sat in their rooms pouring over their The Doors records while their peers got laid to a soundtrack of Tiesto and ephemeral highs. That's right, not the other weirdos who struggle with odour problems and think Psychostick is just the coolest. 

Why mention The Doors though, when there are a thousand classic metal bands that could have been the source of young artists' inspiration? Truly, it's because TOAD sound far too well rounded as writers to have saturated themselves only in metal, and unlike the locust swarm of average bands proud to announce how they 'have so many influences that come together to create a unique sound', TOAD have the results to back it up.

Given the arena a full length can provide, TOAD spread themselves to create the album of diversity and tonal flavour they deserve, largely courtesy of their use of keys. Metal such as this is meant to be done by four sweaty guys with guitars and a drumkit, keyboard players are meant to play only in symphonic black and power metal embarrassments. The shameless yet tasteful use of keys by TOAD is one of the albums most captivating factors, the Hendersons relish on your cheese on toast.

A special mention also needs to go out to the vocals on this album, with frontman Andrew Leemont adeptly switching between shouts, bestial roars, tuneful clean lines, and barely melodic 80's goth mumblings, sometimes in the space of a single song. Rarely such an asset in such music, the vocal delivery really brings 'Vacant Face' to life, and without the keys and dynamic vocals the album may indeed have found itself struggling to be remembered too well.

The songs adopt a range of tempos, never taking it too fast to lose their churning groove, with that relaxed and composed battery being one of the defining characteristics the band understands well. No 180bpm pieces of furious tedium for these guys, and perhaps unintentionally they at times take on a more atmospheric, dare I say psychedelic, feel.

Going up against beasts of albums such as Giant Squid's 'Minoans' or Nux Vomica's final offering, 'Vacant Face' was always going to find it hard to get the top spot in 2014, but to fail to give this album the time it deserves it doing disservice to the hard work of the band and the fantastic album it has borne.

Come along for the ride, it'll be the most evil party you've ever been to.'

‘Vacant Face’ is available here

Words: Jake Mazlum

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