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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