Review Summary: A delicious slice of instrumental rock.
There aren’t many instrumental bands that have the ability to craft near 10 minute songs which keep the listener glued to every single moment. In order to achieve this, the music has to be rich and layered, it needs to demonstrate natural progression whilst still maintaining an air of unpredictability, and above all else it needs to boast almost arrogant songwriting skills. With IV
, Toundra confidently show that they deserve every second of your attention, and they effortlessly tick all of the boxes which you’d expect them to. Toundra’s brand of post metal has been scaled down and softened so much throughout their career that at this point it probably needs declassifying, but regardless of the label you choose to attach to the Spaniards, their brand of instrumental rock is undeniably captivating.
The album’s biggest selling point is its ability to create broad, lush soundscapes which stretch as far as the ear can hear. Perhaps most similar in nature to Scale the Summit’s The Migration
, Toundra place more of their emphasis on gorgeous lead guitars than on crushing blows, and they conjure plenty of organic, vibrant images in the process. Touching on the familiar post rock tropes, you never find yourself consciously waiting for the music to build to a meaningful climax, and it’s all too easy to get swept up in the opulent atmosphere instead. By enjoying a drawn out major arpeggio here and relishing a tremolo picked note there, the album’s most rewarding moments often creep up and surprise you, commonly occurring long before you expect them to. It’s a theme which flows throughout; you’ll rarely find a highlight here which is the result of the tired build-release blueprint, and the few that do don’t feel remotely formulaic because of it. Just listen out for the intertwining dual guitars which dance an octave apart at around the 3 minute mark on Belenos; and the flamenco tinged acoustic guitars which dominate “Viesca” for an idea of how the album snares you. The former is so subtle that it’s easy to gloss over it on first listen, while the latter provides the biggest hint of all as to the band’s musical heritage.
Slight criticism can be aimed at the album’s third track “Lluvia,” which develops into little more than a drone song. Claustrophobic and repetitious, it not only seems a strange choice to follow the gargantuan album highlight “Qarqom,” but it feels out of keeping with the album’s breezy, expansive ethos. It’s a minor blip in what is otherwise a spotless listen though, and its short run time is unlikely to ruffle your feathers enough to tarnish your overall opinion.
Much of IV
’s power lies in the beauty and unpredictability of its highlights, and I suspect that for each and every listener the moments picked out and cherished will be vastly different. Whether it’s the beautiful addition of trumpets on the aforementioned “Viesca” or the swift change of emphasis after 3 minutes on “Kitsune,” IV
manages to cater to the tastes of all who sample it.