01 April 2017 (released)
27 April 2017
Arguably, the most greatly anticipated release of this decade is the elusive new Tool album. The prog/alt-metal band have cultivated an intensely loyal fanbase who hang on their every word much like the world did at the height of Beatlemania. Any music is violently consumed over and over until it becomes mantra and the lyrics are dissected with the utmost rigour and scrutiny. Over the last 11 years, the fans have been left “waiting like a stalking butler” while Maynard tends to side projects, makes wine and gets his ass kicked at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It makes sense that many musicians have soaked up their ethos and conjured up music reminiscent of the hallowed quartet.
Santa Ana, California's Saint Blasphemer's new record, Theotokos is a high energy five track EP of crunchy riffs, ratcheting drums and bellowing vocals. The group clearly takes strong influence from Tool. Not from the spacey, tripped out psych-prog of their three most recent releases but rather the gritty, churning of Tool's first two records. Aside from the odd breakout into a runaway punkish beat, great care seems to have been made to follow the model laid out on Tool's Opiate and Undertow. Even the mix seems to be crafted to emulate the gritty mid-heavy, mid-nineties soundscape.
In the opener 'Collapse', singer Thomas Monroe erupts with dismissive rage, riding against detractors. His howl takes on a Danzig-like quality to create a tasty hybrid. The band creates shifting sands beneath his frustrated musings. Snaking riffing over an odd time signature creates a cool swaying vibe on 'She'. John Castellon throws down a hearty rockin' solo while Steve Shell's bass goes for a walk and Steve Ybarra pummels out some furious drums. 'Road to Nowhere' is built on a shaky clean guitar lick that seems somewhat weak, to begin with, but develops into a quirky Primus-esque oddity by the end.
It's hard not to compare Theotokos to Maynard and the gang. Particularly if you're a huge fan yourself and are aware of all of their various tricks. This is in part a compliment but hopefully, they take this solid base and expand out to find more of their 'own sound'. However, if you feel that Tool lost its cool when they started pumping out sprawling 10-minute opuses and long for the glory days of Prison Sex and Hush, Saint Blasphemer is the answer for you. They've kept that fury distilled at high proof.