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The mescaline must be kicking in. - 90%

Diamhea, March 27th, 2014

I don't think I have ever had a more difficult time formulating my opinion regarding an album. I have been listening to Loss Angeles for going on ten years, and I certainly got the vibe that I was missing the point at many junctures. It shouldn't come as too much of a shock to the system after the near-equally peculiar Pervertigo, but the disposal of nearly all of the band's original stylings really accentuates the seclusive atmosphere here, tossing the listener into the darkened streets of Gothamburg and leaving them to their own devices amongst the fog-obscured streetlights that pull society's underdrippings from their hiding places.

That said, Throne of Chaos can always be relied on for a great, tongue-in-cheek lyrical performance. We get more of that than ever here, and the shift on vocals from Kiljunen to Nieminen does the band great favors, scrapping the shaky clean performances from Pervertigo and replacing them through rock solid mid-paced dirges like "The Window," "May Lou Is Dead," and "Blue Lady." Loss Angeles is a loosely conceptual piece, addressing themes of drug abuse and ambivalence towards lost loves - all set to the soundtrack of urban decay. While these are relatively common conceptual abstractions, Throne of Chaos always delivers them in an atypical and refreshing way. For example, the group even earns a few chuckles on the otherwise exceptionally dark "Bite the Bullet," throwing about lines like "I hate your guts, but otherwise you're fine." Other than a few death growls on "Break-a-Neck" and "Acid Highway," this is the Tuomas Nieminen show. Dude has a great, resonant set of pipes on him and has the ability to bend his voice in unnatural directions to achieve a certain mood.

While Sjöblom's progressive, twinkling synths are less prominent than ever, it isn't necessarily a huge detraction here. The emphasis is almost universally on the vocals and the ambiance they summon. If you are looking for speed, you certainly won't find it here, as Throne of Chaos is more concerned with crafting their narrative noir than ripping the floorboards out from underneath you. Even so, "Acid Highway" easily takes the prize for the most complete, enthralling composition here. It's malleable ability to go from grooving power metal riffs into an uplifting, somber keyboard-driven outro speaks volumes to the band's songwriting chops. Despite a lack of spirited leadwork (they are here, just not in high quantity), nearly every stylistic risk the band has taken has paid off immensely here. I didn't agree with much of Pervertigo, mainly because the band hadn't fully committed to the offbeat aesthetic they so awkwardly purported on said album. On Loss Angeles, Throne of Chaos stops trying to live up to the constrictive genre tags they were earlier associated with and just let the ideas flow. How cruel is it then that nobody gave two shits about this album when it was originally released?

While I will concede that many of the slower power ballads here like "Wait" may be difficult to sell on their own, it is the ease in which they fit into the engrossing whole that truly embodies what makes this album work so well. While my version comes with the exceptionally-executed Judas Priest cover as a bonus track, it is "Smoke on the Water" that truly accentuates how well Throne of Chaos can adapt to stylistic mutation. From flesh melting melodic power metal to understated and anthemic rockers like on Loss Angeles; what else can I contribute it to other than the skill of these Finns?

Much fuss has been made over the fact that "Break-a-Neck" is the only song here that would fit snugly on Menace and Prayer, but the bottom line is that Throne of Chaos clearly have no desire in making a particular scene with Loss Angeles. It always comes at a risk, but it is exactly this lack of stylistic inhibition and free-form thinking process that gives this album such a great appeal. As such, it is both ironic and exceptionally sad that the band was forced to disband due to a lack of interest shortly afterward. Throne of Chaos tried to stick it out and drive to the end of their conceptual highway, on flat tires and with a broken windshield no less. Give them credit, because Loss Angeles is a truly engrossing experience.

A creative adventure into a musical noir. - 94%

Empyreal, March 14th, 2010

Throne of Chaos, hailing from the icy waters and landscapes of Finland just as about three fourths of all popular metal bands do, have put out a very enjoyable album of fresh, inventive Power Metal tinged with progressive metal and theatrical, emotive bluesy rock n’ roll as well. The combination of that with their unmistakable Finnish polish makes for an album I can find very little fault in at all. Friends…this is Loss Angeles.

It’s just amazing how cool this is, and how I had never heard of it before when I first tracked it down late last year. Throne of Chaos, or TOC for short, apparently used to be a Children of Bodom styled band playing hyper-fluttery melodeath, and over three albums moved into…well, this. What is it? How did this blend of styles come to be? Who cares! Whatever Loss Angeles is, it is fucking cool. I just love the atmosphere on this – a smoky, desolate haze, obscuring neon lights and fur-coated women and long, narrow, cobblestone streets in a thin fog. Crystalline synths mesh with the steely, razor-tipped guitars and the light croon of the vocals to create an engaging sound with a mystique that will keep you guessing and intrigued throughout its forty-minute runtime.

Vocally, Tuomas Nieminen is pretty much spot on, and although there are maybe some places the melodies he sings could be better, it’s a minor nit-pick at best. His rich wail carries through the wall of thick guitars with a ghostly transparency, soaring as if through a sheet of clouds. Nothing on here is ever overstated or done in a way that brings it unnecessarily to the forefront of things; everything is given perfect space and room to breathe. The songwriting is just wild, with twists around every corner, never predictable. The amount of slower songs is something I find interesting, as a lesser band would make it sound dragging, but somehow TOC keep things consistent and entertaining all the way through. Every song has a rock-solid musical hook, every song fits perfectly into place. Opening with the power metal smash of “The Window,” TOC waste no time in enticing the listener to hear more. With its sonorous vocals in the chorus and shimmering chords, the song sweeps you into their noir-ish world of brawls and booze and beauty – an elegant task. It is followed oddly enough by a ballad called “Mary Lou,” which features dashing melodies and a really good chorus that will send chills down your spine. How many bands have a power ballad like this as their second song these days? I don’t know; it’s just interesting.

One thing I really like about TOC and this album in particular is their ability to make even the most simple chords and riffs count for so damn much. This is very complex music, with multiple layers to it that need many listens to fully unravel, but they never cram in any unnecessary bullshit or come off like they don’t know what they’re doing. They make simple things like the booming Deep Purple-esque riffs to “Acid Highway” or the dripping, eerie chords of “Bite the Bullet” sound enormous and relevant to the atmosphere. Witness the cold synths of “Gothamburg,” with its progressive structure, or the swirling, airy stomp of the melodies on “Blue Lady.” Even “Wait,” with its booming pop chords and catchy, streamlined chorus, is written with enough flair and style to become completely cool.

Murder, mayhem, drugs, illicit romance and revenge…the things this album thrives on, like a leech on its host. If you don’t find these themes appealing, then maybe you won’t like this album, but I do, so it’s just like icing on the cake. They are pretty much integral to the album, as it really is a better experience when you immerse yourself in that kind of mindset, with the lyrics soaking themselves into your bones like a fine wine. Do not lose yourself in booze and drugs; listen to Loss Angeles instead, and make sure to drive all the way to the end of the highway, horns ablaze, ready to experience this album in all its wonder. Let it grow on you, as it really is worth every penny, every second of time you invest.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Originality goes a long way - 86%

NoTruce, October 17th, 2006

TOC have gone a long way since their early days as THRONE OF CHAOS , having released two albums under that name. Menace And Prayer (2001) was - albeit brilliantly conceived and executed, and with intelligent lyrics on top - a pretty standard 'bodom-esque' affair; power metal with black vocals and lots of keyboards. 2002's Pervertigo saw them moving away somewhat from the Finnish speed/black sound, incorporating a lot of cleaner vocals, this time courtesy of Dream Evil's Niklas Isfelt, while the grunts were handled by newcomer Pasi Nykänen. Even then, the progressiveness of the songs made its presence clearly known. And now they've released Loss Angeles a moody, versatile piece of music, and the style they practiced in the beginning is almost entirely gone. The band has a new singer in Tuomas Nieminen, who handles all the clean vocals, while the harsh ones (when present) are done by guitarist and band founder Taneli Kiljunen. The new album is set in the fictional city of Gothamburg, and deals with very 'noirish' themes such as love, murder and betrayal. One can almost smell the smoky jazz joints and visualize the dark streets of this city - the name of which, according to the band, was created by mixing Gotham City, Gothenburg and Hamburg. Hmm, strange...


The Window opens the album, it is a midtempo song that flows along nicely and gives new singer Tuomas an excellent chance to show off his abilities, which he does, to great results. This man is born to sing this kind of rock, which would be a pretty accurate description of the rest of the album as well, psychedelic progressive rock, with slabs of jazz, lounge and metal thrown in for good measure. Mary Lou Is Dead continues the story, and this is one of my favorite tracks. This semi-ballad is all that and more, making one almost want to weep during the bridge and chorus. Nieminen's crooning here is enough to give you goose bumps any time. Acid Highway is, while not being overly fast, one of the fast tracks on the album, and once again TOC drench you in psychedelic rock, launching a chorus that is as effective as it is catchy. Taneli does some screamy backing vocals for this, as well. We'll drive to the end of the highway, despite the acid within me. Strange. Gothamburg is a very slow tune, with the vocals coming off as almost 'shy' in the beginning, displaying a semi-acoustic middle part, before the guitars launch into some progressive chords and the vocals pick up again. Blue Lady is an almost dreamlike piece, with swirling guitars and magical keyboards that manage to enchant you into a world where you're not sure if you're awake or sleeping. Another favorite. Wait starts off semi-acoustically as well, drawing you into a chorus that teeters on the edge of being overly pompous, but manages to stay on the line and deliver another catchy chorus, all the while alternating between faster and slower passages. A tune that grows on you. The Blue Lady Suite is an instrumental, clocking in on nearly one and a half minute, and really doesn't add anything to the album in my opinion. It's ok, but expendable. Break-A-Neck on the other hand, is two minutes and fifty-nine seconds of heaven. The hardest (and probably fastest) track on the album, it is also the only one with only screamy vocals. Taneli growls his lungs out on this one, while the guitars thrash away towards the inevitable climax. More of this would have been nice! Bite The Bullet contains a LOT of different passages, so I suggest you listen to it carefully, again and again, to get the full scope. It is a slow song with lots of layers, and I'm not sure I have managed to 'experience' this track fully myself yet. Smoke On The Water rounds the album off, and it is exactly what you think it is: A cover of the world famous Deep Purple song, and amazingly this retake is pretty damn fresh! Smoke On The Water is not an easy tune to cover, being so simple in its structure, it's almost impossible to make something new out of it, but TOC do it anyway, and the result is grand! Faster than the original, mixing Tuomas's vocals with Taneli's background screams during the chorus (gotta love those!), this is a must listen! Originally only intended for the Japanese version of the album, the band loved the remake so much they decided to include it on the European version, as well.


Talking about the Japanese version, I have got to mention the special bonus track the Japs get with Loss Angeles. Normally, bonus tracks may be stuff a band cuts out from the original recordings, stuff that is sub-par with the rest of the songs. That is NOT the case with Los Angeles, Los Angeles, however. This track alone ups the score with half a point, my friends. It's that damn good, and me loves it muchly! Being an uptempo affair, they should have included this one the regular version of the album, and removed the instrumental, had they been in need of space. Los Angeles, Los Angeles gallops away towards the sunset, showing off a chorus that is pure power metal sing-a-long, lyrics being funny as hell, and very entertaining. This song adds another dimension to the album, and constitutes a very important part of what is, in my humble opinion, a damn fine and rewarding listening experience. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Loss Angeles now!


Originally written for http://www.nocturnalhall.com