!T.O.O.H.! – Premiant (2022)REVIEW

Computer-aided conditioning of culture unto the Dodo vernacular. — These last several successive generations deepcast into the nowadays apex of the information age display a human temperament which now by default includes the psychological side-effects previously exclusive to those who indulge in instant gratification and nothing else. These are the normative psycho-hedonists and addicts among us which fill comment sections, partake in impulsive sexual acts, feed grotesque habits (i.e. podcasting), chase clout with vengeance, and live in a constant state of zealous attention-seeking behavior. Back in my day we’d called ’em n00bs and kicked ’em out of our mIRC group within minutes of their first WinAMP “now playing” string dump yet the default corporation-spanked into shape shame spiral that is the internet today is haven to a hive mind comprised of this exact social media-engineered dingus tract, eternally eager for the next fix of whatever’ll sate the keen dodger of existential dread. To be fair !T.O.O.H.! were always the right folks for the “job” of future-sighted prog-deathgrind that’d speak to this type of goon, a couple of fellowes ahead of their time bearing innate musical talent nurtured by the absolute gush of gratification brought on by the computer age and the crossed wires of late 80’s arte-grindcore absurdity. ‘Premiant‘ is the latest sound argument made that their underrated craft be treasured as high-reactive mirror upon what is real yet surreal in the horrifying pits of mankind today. This time around they’re a bit more technical, hittin’ the keys harder, and cramming as much of themselves as possible into this tightly wound eleven minute mLP.

the least best-known grindcore band ever screwed over by Earache Records“. — Though I will save a full history of the band for their next full-length I think it is worth developing some context for the important story of !T.O.O.H.! as a tremendous self-taught venture from the weirding Prague-area brutal deathgrind scenery in the early 90’s unto their own realm in the first half of the 2000’s. To be sure the delayed but eventually intense global notice of Czechia’s extreme metal scene beyond the release of ‘Elvenefris‘ meant anyone following death metal or grindcore at the time did not miss key records from Contrastic, Ahumado Granujo and Mincing Fury and Guttural Clamour of Queer Decay as they’d arrived in weirder import outlets here in the states. I’d argue that it was !T.O.O.H.! that’d arrived at a best realized state of condensation to start, having spent years developing their own sound. Their second full-length album was a revelation achieved by way of a trade, I’d sent a copy of the second Aeternus album (a favorite of mine at the time) and got ‘Pod vl​á​dou bi​č​e‘ (2003) in return. The pitch from my friend at the time was something like “Cephalic Carnage if they were a mid-90’s prog-death band” and I think that’d helped me jump in with the right mindset. Expect a technical, tangential, free-wheeling, and expressive work of idiosyncrasy in all of their releases.

Premiant‘ finds the duo of brothers tasking themselves with pushing whatever limits they can figure beyond their already impressive second comeback/fifth full-length album, ‘Free Speech‘ (2020) while keeping it fairly organic in writ and render. The result is no less signature in its affect still featuring turn-on-a-dime quick changes, maniac dual vocals, and metric ton of surrealistic gnashing splayed between the two-legged guitars and the third leg their increasingly frequent use of keyboards/synth provides. Don’t expect these four songs to shatter the core paradigm the previous album had established, or to push back into the underrated Zeuhl-grind of ‘Democratic Solution‘ (2013), as it seems the weirding palette of !T.O.O.H.!‘s best known work is enough to sustain their exuberance in refinement. The title track should spell this all out in glorious technicolor with its dual guitar leads and throttled blasts which serve the mad tarantella longtime fans will appreciate. The spooge-splattered battle station found on the cover art (via helps the mind sink fully into the tone of the mLP, otherwise.

“choco_afro” is not only the best showcase for the use of keyboards on this album but it is also the screen name/social media handle of Czechia politician Dominik Feri, a vocal #MeToo supporter per his political platform who’d turned out to be an (alleged) prolific rapist, whose victims included children. Before he’d been imprisoned, and more recently attempted suicide, Politico had named him as one of the 28 “people who are most likely to shape the European future“. Anyhow, I’m not out to share ironic/disturbing eastern European political trivia but rather to suggest the depth of interesting references within the dark, ironic and often wry personality which !T.O.O.H.! are known for is certainly here. “Na všech životech záleží” follows this brief moment with a more complete set of thoughts, outlandish and erratic muscling about along an unpredictable path which incorporates the unique, disjointed melodic side of the band. Just as a band like Sigh are intensely progressive and melodic in grotesque streaks so are these fellows. The warbling semi-melodic leads of that piece appear to directly translate to those found on “V lóži”. Here we’ve gotten our feet wet with their wildly pissed-about sound but this is only a glimpse of the general intensity and creative energy of the band.

Eleven minutes is enough for a taste, a promising tease of what comes next. Though ‘Premiant‘ provides myriad instant gratification on the surface and some curious depth of meaning and detail worth exploring otherwise, it cannot help but feel somewhat brief in the moment and exhausting in hindsight. Consider it a 7″ sized and cassette pressed reminder of what evolutionary and intuitive craft !T.O.O.H.! have always been all about. It bodes well for what comes next on their sixth album, anyhow. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:!T.O.O.H.!
TITLE:Premiant [mLP]
LABEL(S):Lavadome Productions
RELEASE DATE:December 24th, 2022

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