Review Summary: As dark and ugly as doom can get.
Taking cues from the likes of Sleep, Electric Wizard, Sunn O))) or Boris, the Dutch trio, Toner Low, are one of the bands that have set to explore the darkest corners of the stoner/doom metal genre. They take the slow, heavy riffs to build a ferocious, constant onslaught of fuzz, classically entitled III
. The band stripped most sonic layers, leaving a basic instrumentation to immerse the listener into their darkest effort yet.
In a genre where the sound is crucial to the whole experience it offers, Toner Low deliver a really low frequency, brutal set of songs. Removing layers when other bands tend to add, these guys compel through the sheer force of their riffs. These create a scorching wall of sound that refuses to show any weaknesses. The four phases, as titled by them and numbered much like Karma To Burn choose to do with their own songs, add up to a comprehensive, 55-minute doom journey. They vary the tempos going from really slow segments that range from dark ambient moments to several powerful waves of fuzz, to more energetic ones, where various vocals and hazy effects have been inserted. Their main role is to intensify the grim nature of the record, giving it a dark psychedelic atmosphere. The vocals are thrown in the background, manifesting mostly through hellish screams, while the oscillators add a fair amount of paranoia to this uneasy experience. The most straightforward and progressive song here is "Phase Eight", with its' bulldozer riffs and sparse clean vocals, which grows from a tense yet subdued introduction to a dirty, fast, feedback-drenched finale. Even though each phase is over 10 minutes long, they have been clearly designed to be listened to together, thus enhancing III
's effects on the listener.
Unfortunately, Toner Low's desire to focus solely on the dark, dense and brooding sound, adding a murky production to match their musical ideas is what will drastically divide the potential audience. Depending on the listener, III
can be a repetitive, exhaustive listen or a gripping one, however, it is clear the band spent a lot of time developing their chemistry. Either way, cover hints the listener at how to better approach and digest III