TOC - Loss Angeles

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 164
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:10:00

Who are TOC? Well, besides the new incarnation of Throne Of Chaos. I ask because it's hard to tell from listening to Loss Angeles just exactly what or who TOC want to be. Have they always been like this? I don't know, maybe so (and if so, why the name change?). Variety is good, but... to much variety seems... chaotic.

At the core, I'd say that they are mostly musically influenced by Dream Theater. Okay, let's be a little more precise, the vocals are very influenced by Dream Theater, as Tuomas Nieminen often sounds a great deal like James LaBrie. Musically, they are a bit denser than Dream Theater.

The album opens with the jangly, energetic opener "The Window," my favorite track with its soaring vocals (esp. in the chorus) and lively arrangement. They follow it with the aching ballad "Mary Lou Is Dead." Sure, it plays into every ballad cliché but that's why they're clichés. I think of Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" a little bit ("Mary Lou..." even has a lyric very close to that title). Another highlight is "Blue Lady," an epic piece that briefly puts keyboards up front for a moment, before guitars (Taneli Kiljunen and Joiku Harmaja) take over, though I don't know which of the two is letting notes leak out like solar flares. Pretty much guitars rule the day on the album - aside from vocals. "Blue Lady" is a big song, the soaring choruses clear the rafters and head on up into the sky. Oh, not piercing squeals or anything, Nieminen is a very good vocalist with great control who doesn't need to squeal in the upper registers. (It is reprised in an instrumental "The Blue Lady Suite."). So, those are my favorites.

I'm not as impressed with the rest of the album, though it's not bad. It just doesn't grab me as much as... well, really as much as the first track. They get thrashy with "Acid Highway," which mixes the Dream Theater in with some crunchiness and death vocals, "Break-A-Neck" which doesn't include any DT elements... just pure growly aggression, though musically let's mention Metallica. In this category, I'd say "Night Crawler" (the bonus track) fits as well, being a heavy rocker of the ... heavy 80s metal style. Before checking, I was thinking ... not Maiden, not Priest... well, yes, a little like Priest. So, I checked. It's a cover of a Judas Priest song (from 1997's Painkiller). Not familiar with the original, but this is pretty good, energetic and lively. However, the other two... though I like them musically, the vocals (aside from those "clean" portions on "Acid...") make these not my favorite tracks.

In between the favorites and the not-favorites ... "Gothamburg" is darker, moodier, and yet packs a few punches, especially in the squealing guitar solo. It's got a dark, gothic, plodding rhythm that... just doesn't seem to fit in with anything else on the album. Chiming guitars, a la Petrucci circa Images And Words begin "Wait." And yes, this piece could fit on that DT classic; here drums Snake Laitinen are the most prominent element behind vocals. And "Bite The Bullet" is... take everything Pain Of Salvation have done and compress it into one 6-minute plus track that is part power ballad, part rocker, part freakshow or sideshow (grotesque characters "speak" and there's even some carnival like sounds for a moment) and... well, yes, that's what you get. Though their no POS.

The other cover doesn't fair as well as "Night Crawler," as the track that comes right before it is a torturous (and I mean that in a bad way), thrashy rendition of the Deep Purple classic "Smoke On The Water" - a track that makes me appreciate the original even more... Nope, not pleasing at all.

So... in the end, Loss Angeles is an grudgingly okay release, with few gems, some duds, and is mostly in the average to slightly above average range. If your tastes vary as widely as their styles, you'll at least be entertained by the CD. Otherwise... moderately entertained. But that's what programmable CD players are for, yes?

Also released by InsideOut Music America (IOMA 2078)

The Window (4:52) / Mary Lou Is Dead (5:22) / Acid Highway (5:10) / Gothamburg (6:02) / Blue Lady (5:18) / Wait (3:49) / The Blue Lady Suite (1:24) / Break A Neck (2:58) / Bite The Bullet (6:42) / Smoke On The Water (2:35) / Bonus Track: Night Crawler (5:40)

Tuomas Nieminen - vocals
Taneli Kiljunen - guitar
Joiku Harmaja - guitar
Rasmus Nora - bass
Carl Sjöblom - keyboards
Snake Laitinen - drums

Menace And Prayer (2000)
Pervertigo (2002)
Loss Angeles (2004)

Genre: Rock

Origin FI

Added: July 4th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 762
Language: english


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