T.O.C. / Throne of Chaos

Loss Angeles

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Formerly known as Throne of Chaos and formerly lumped in with the black metal ghetto, TOC has passed through several phases of experimentation, dabbling in classical and progressive variants before settling, apparently, on a sound that comes across as a sort of prog-death-psychedelic hybrid. The band has retained its love of sonic size and heaviness, piling layers of chugging guitars on top of each other and (on songs like "Acid Highway") alternating guttural roars with operatic, vibrato-laden cries. Elsewhere there are clear echoes of old-school King Crimson ("Gothamburg") and moments of straight-up blissful melodic rock & roll ("Wait"). When the mercifully brief guitar showpiece "Blue Lady Suite" segues into the very dark and death-laden "Break-a-Neck," you know you're in the presence of something pretty unusual. Whether it's something you want to spend an hour of your time with will depend mainly on whether you're someone who sees the attraction of both Cannibal Corpse and King's X. If those sound like mutually contradictory tastes to you, then you may be more befuddled than enthralled by this album.

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