Review Summary: A superb debut and a great taste of what a great band has to offer.
In a sea of bands in the independent post-hardcore/melodic hardcore genre, it’s hard to find a band that really shines above the rest other than the significant headers. It’s even harder to find a band who has that lasting effect on you, and doesn’t just sound good for the ten or so minutes you listen to them. With that, Meraki/Toska enters the foray with their 5-piece outfit from Texas. Hitting the scene with their debut EP “Hidden In Me Somewhere”, the group manages to create 5 short-but-sweet songs with a hard-hitting attack that will stay with you long after you finish the EP, and each repeated listen will reward you with different intricacies of the instrumentation.
Starting off with the short instrumental “.wav” you are given a taste of the fast-paced punk/hardcore rhythms provided by the instrumentalists alone. A delightfully dark guitar tone bounces off of the drums fantastically, and as soon as the song is over we are thrust into the first complete song of the EP, “Melancholia”.
As soon as the song starts we are treated to a start-stop pattern provided by the guitarists as the drums continue to attack for a few bars until a brief stop cuts through and the sound of a throat clearing is heard, which is where we are introduced to the vocalist, Cody.
Getting away from the EP for just a quick tangent, I’d just like to stress that the vocals on this EP are neither spoken nor screamed. It is a harsh, visceral yell that the lyrics are expressed to the listeners through, and when put together with the music, it is an absolute fitting and winning combination. Don’t go in expecting vocals similar to Defeater, don’t go in expecting Jordan Dreyer (La Dispute) to be spitting soulful words into your ears; expect to have wistfully emotional verses attacking you left and right, and that’s what makes Meraki/Toska’s music so interesting when the two elements (instrumentation/vocals) are combined.
Getting back to the EP, “Alive” follows afterward. At around 3:30, it is the longest song on the record, and features clean vocals from a guest vocalist. The guitars harmonize brilliantly, the bass keeps a continuous sync that makes the structure seem all the more inviting, and again, the lyrics are quite a big standout here. As much as I liked the song, I really enjoyed what came up next.
“Solitude”, the song I believe to be the centerpiece of the album, opens up with struggled vocals before a fast-paced drum/guitar attack fills the air and ‘off-we-go’ with the verse. Everything seems attuned to the formula that the band is seeking to perfect, and with the addition of an amazing guitar riff towards the bridge, reminds me quite heavily of the departed post-hardcore group ‘.hopesfall.’ and how their guitars had such a undeniable melody to them, even with their sometimes dissonant and crunchy tone. Everything works on this song, and with that, we are led into the final song on the EP.
“Amore” is a short song that utters a leitmotif (“Love is hidden in me”) echoed throughout all of the tracks, and solidifies the sound that this band has been showing us that they are capable of. Again, everything works here, and it even has a nice surprise at the end where it fades away for a few seconds before immediately blaring back in with a catchy and rhythmic breakdown as the vocals roar their way to the actual end of the track.
After taking my listen and closing the window to their album (available on bandcamp), it occurred to me that I had actually listened to it twice in a row. Quite a rare feat for myself when I’m listening to a new band, and it left me pleasantly surprised. Meraki/Toska is a band with something to offer, and I’m sure if you give them a chance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to. It is a fantastic debut with hopefully many more fantastic things to come.