A Music Snob’s Look at Dorje and Toska

I find it harder to write about bands I actually like. There’s not much punch to having a laugh about essentially saying “I like this band, go listen to them”.

But this is what we’re doing, so away we go. It’s very rare I get all excited and preach gospel when I find new music, so buckle up, bitches. We’re going in hard.

Dorje is a new instalment into my musical vocabulary, thanks to the involvement of Rob Chapman, who I recently encountered during a YouTube binge:

I tried to write a quick summary of Chapman, but this photo pretty much sums up everything you need to know
I could do a quick writeup of Chappers, but this is a pretty decent summary

 

One video led to another video and so on until my binging led to me finding out he’s like, in a band, you guys! And his band is another band as well!

That band is Dorje, a grungey metal band out of the UK. And they kick ass.

That band, minus Rob, is Toska and they’re also out of the UK, funnily enough. They also kick ass

THE ARTIST

Formerly “The Rob Chapman Band”, Chapman and Rabea Massaad make up the guitars and vocals of Dorje, flanked by Dave Hollingworth and Ben Minal on bass and drums, respectively. They’re currently working on an album and have two EP’s out: “Catalyst” and “Centred and One”. It feels like there’s NO pretensions with these guys. They all seem like people you’d happily meet at the pub and have a few drinks with.

Toska is Dorje minus Chapman, they currently have one EP out, titled “Ode to the Author”.

THE MUSIC

Both are Metal, if you want to be vague.

Dorje

In reality and/or if you want to impress your music snob mates, Dorje are weird mix of grungey, garagey, proggy metal that fits really, really well together. Think Incubus if they had dirty, drunken sex involving butt-stuff with Black Label Society.

Yeah, you’re totally thinking about Brandon Boyd and Zakk Wylde boning now. You’re welcome.

Toska

Toska takes the prog/djenty side of things and cranks it up a notch. A lot of it has this Behold! The Arctopus/Karnivool sorta feel to it. I dig. Rabea wears his influences on his sleeve here but it doesn’t feel at all derivative. It’s almost chillout metal, even. Unless you really, really hated this sort of music you could chuck it on and it’d just sit in the background being all like “S’up? I’m just going to blow your fucking head off for the next half hour”.

CATALYST

It’s hard to get into specifics when again, I could just go “it all sounds amazing! Why are you still reading?!”

From opening to close, Catalyst overperforms in an area where there’s plenty of performers. It all comes together in an amazing, noisy blitzkrieg. The only thing I can really fault is that it’s all over far too quickly. All the songs sound unique to eachother without being too jarring and each one is peppered with little motifs here and here that you’ll discover with subsequent listens. There are some weaksauce songs here, but even then they seem to be growers.

Standout Tracks: Aeromancy is fucking amazing. White Dove has this rad old-school metal sound to it. So much so I thought they covered a Motley Crue song to begin with.

CENTRED AND ONE

Centred and One basically takes everything about Catalyst which was great and makes them greater. There’s some weaksauce aspects but it feels like they’ve found their place more here. It kinda has a Tool vibe to it, the title song especially.

Standout Tracks: Centred and One, Flower of Life. Honestly I just like hearing Rob scream his head off. If I could be bothered setting my alarm as the “Take life/To bring new life” bit from “Flower” as my alarm I fucking would.

Honourable mention: Zero. Rob, we gotta talk here, man… Who upset you? Do you need a hug? A coffee? Jesus fucking Christ. This song isn’t even sad or angry, it makes it’s own category. I dub it: Sangry. Or Sadangry. Or…Angrysad. Regardless, it’s pretty good.

ODE TO THE AUTHOR

The one thing that struck me with “Ode” is that it’s completely instrumental. Be it from Toska not finding an appropriate singer, or simply just wanting to be an instrumental band. The absense of vocals isn’t missed, either. The songs work without them just fine. The EP occasionally (and perhaps understandably) delves into Dorje territory, but the difference in sound, tone, and structure is pretty big. You’re not going to pop on a Toska song and mistake it for Dorje, for example.

Standout tracks: Chalk Teeth, Infantile, Chasm. The latter especially is amazing towards the end.

IN SUMMARY

Listen to ’em. They’re good. No jokes or shenanigans here. I mean the Toska EP’s even free if you don’t feel like spending money. So what are you waiting for?

I really do hope things progress and these guys get some fucking recognition, a few albums under their belt and whatnot. They’re too good not to.

Onward to 2017…

So… 2016. What a fucking garbage fire, hey?

Not just the celeb deaths and Cheeto Grandad ascending his throne, but it seems everywhere I looked people were having a shit time of things.

There were good bits for me. 2016 was more or less a gap year where I could just sit and think “what the fuck do I do next?!” and it more or less turned out that way. Highlights include:

-Travelling for the first time in forever. Scone, Brisbane, Port Stephens, Cessnock. Sure it was all for work, but got to see more of the country all the same. Also. Whale watching!

20161105_145438

-Seeing Osaka Punch live for the first time. I heard a lot about these guys via Luis, and had always wanted to catch them at a gig.

Shanghai Punch? Osaka Shanghai?
Shanghai Punch? Osaka Shanghai?

Shooting the “Shenanigans” video clip. In 2015 I worked with Helen Perris, few years before that was Alison Avron. Now just need to flag down Dorje, Toska, Tom Dickins and Brendan Maclean and I can consider myself accomplished.

So ticked another thing off the bucket list here, meanwhile “Shenangians” came at a time for me where things were all a bit dire and horrible, so being able to work with Luis + co on something awesome was rad, and something I sorely needed.

-Mel and Gemma. While not perfect. Good times were had, laughs were shared, as were events.

-Watching Canada vs USA @ Qudos Stadium. Hockey! Canada winning! Gretsky was there!

-Newsagency’s birthday celebrations. Ever since I left Marrickville I have missed going to the Newsagency. Made up for that with the birthday celebrations one fateful evening, featuring Alison Avron, Tom Dickins and Sarah Belkner. It was great to see those guys again.

-Starting the podcast. As with most things I helm, releases have been sporadic and all over the place, but learning all the ropes with Michael, meeting Raynne and Hektik Hektor, and shooting the shit about all things ridiculous has been a blessing.

-Finding a new sport to enjoy. COME ON WANDERERS!

-Attending the “Fight Like a Girl” book signing. While I’m not a devout follower of Clementine Ford, I admire the work she does. So grabbing a copy of her book hot off the press and meeting Ford was pretty rad.

img_20161008_010416

That… about wraps it up. I daren’t use the term resolutions for part two of this entry, so let’s call them goals. Either way, I want it written down so I can hold my dumb ass accountable (or at least laugh when I fail miserably)

-Start work on Limited/ShavedPigBicycle stuff. Jordan and I have been throwing ideas around for the punk band, and I’ve been recording stuff for a music project of my own. This year, I want to gig and release an EP.

-Continue the podcast. Whether it be releasing old material or recording new, I want to keep going with it. And with the impending arrival of President Trump, it’s not like we’re running out of material any time soon.

-Keep making videos. Whether it be films/web content or just talking head stuff, I want to give YouTube a proper go this year. One video a fortnight at least. Can’t be that hard, right?

-Get back in touch with people. Hoo boy. This is the big one.

Throughout 2015/2016, between work, two girlfriends, and my hobbies, I have successfully hermited myself from pretty much everyone and it left me pretty fucking depressed. There are a fair chunk of people I have lost touch with and miss having that sort of connection with those people. You can blame a chance meeting with Kitty at the Fight Like a Girl signing for that realization.

It wasn’t on purpose. Okay, so it mostly was. But I felt that hiding from the vast majority of the world was a fab thing to do. So in line with the “new year, new me” shtick, I have a proposal:

Let’s do coffee, or lunch, or beers, or dinner and a bad movie, or play a game, or… some sort of activity I haven’t mentioned. If you’re not local? Let’s Skype. Chances are if you’ve read this far we’re halfway decent mates anyway. So I probably miss you very much and would like to catch up.

I spent 2016 wallowing with the people I needed around me at the time. Now I want to spend 2017 with the rest of you.

 

Till next time…