Review: Toundra – (III) [Album]

By ajcolores

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When the two words ‘instrumental’ and ‘band’ are put together, one word springs to mind: ‘boring’. It’s a little deflating when you hear a wonderful, well written melody that builds, and builds, and continues to build to the point where you feel the vocals should be… and there are none. Time wasted? One would think so. But out there, somewhere, must be a band that have put these two words together, and put them together well.

Toundra are a Spanish post-rock group who are back with their third album, aptly titled (III). Following on from their second album (which would you guess is called (II)) (III) promises to push Toundra as one of Spain’s finest instrumental prog bands.

‘Ara Caeli’ is the first offering on this new record. It’s a seven-minute track that begins with an exciting and promising start: its introduction lasting almost a minute and a half. As each instrument is introduced: first starting with a low sounding synth, then a guitar riff, then another, and another, a melody is introduced, and a bass riff added, until finally the drums kick-in, you can’t help but feel the tension rise and the track about to drop. Withan intense violin melody thrown in, this track is an embodiment of desolation and despair. Its structure fluctuates between a bouncy guitar riff and drumbeat that is rounded off by a fast and angry rhythm.

LISTEN // 'Ara Caeli'

Second track ‘Cielo Negro’ begins with a storm (literally) and a good old power chord. Its opening is heavy, but is transformed into a bass heavy verse and a lighter, rockier ending that appears after a fast high-pitched guitar solo.

is a slower contribution, relying on an acoustic melody and a single drumbeat, which is soon joined by the rest of the band. ‘Requiem’ represents a more solemn and sorrowful side to (III) as can be heard bythe addition of a magnificent string section that gets swept up into a storm of sadness.

LISTEN // 'Requiem'

‘Marte’ picks up the pace as a fast assault, with a chopping riff that changes its shape to slow and speed up again, introducing an onslaught of many different ideas; all at once. ‘Marte’ is darker than ‘Cielo Negro’, and so far, my attention has not faltered, and the band has made a good effort not repeat themselves.

Continuing ‘Marte’s’ heavy themes comes ‘Lilim’, a slower song, but still encapsulating (III)’s theme: an exploration of life and death. Bringing the album to a close is ‘Espirita’, finishing in the way the album began; with seven minutes of spirited prog rock, a fluctuating structure and finally a vocal. OK, so it’s not really a vocal, but the shout “Hey” quickly resonates and it’s gone, like lightening, only to be reborn as a woman’s voice that rings out until the song ends.

(III) is an album that is definitely not boring. Although at some points, you can imagine what the lyrics could be, or how the vocals should sound, but if they were there, the unspoken themes and emotions would diminish. In this case they are not needed. This is an exciting, thunderous, and desolate record. Time wasted? I think not.

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