Toundra are a 4 piece outfit from Madrid, Spain. Esteban, Alberto, Macón and Álex have been writing music since 2007 and in 2009 they released their first album (I). If at that time their potentiality was evident, today, after the release of the albums II and III – III is a particularly interesting album and maybe my favourite work from them so far thanks to its dark vein – they are one of the most well-known bands in the instrumental post-metal/post-rock music scene.
IV is the last effort of the Spanish quartet and it’s a collection of eight movements that is not 100% post-rock or 100% post-metal, but a fine mix of the two and that will please several kinds of audiences, from fans of metal to indie rock enthusiasts.
Even though the new album is fully instrumental there is a concept behind it. IV tells the story of two foxes that need to escape from the forest where they live because of a huge fire. For the band, that fire represents our politicians that are destroying our jobs and opportunities while the forest represents our hometowns or the place we want to live. The band were able to deliver this concept with the energy and dynamics that characterise their music style. On a first listen, I noticed that IV echoes the sound of bands like ISIS and Russian Circles, which for sure influenced the Spanish outfit, but listening more carefully and going deeper into the tracks, I have to tell that Toundra manage to serve you a sonic experience that has its own unique flavour.
‘Strelka’ is the first song of the new record and, as required by the post-rock tradition, its introduction last about 4 minutes before developing in a vertigo of sound where the instruments are combined all together and before dissolving into the following track. It’s a nice start to the album that works as a kind of introduction to the following seven movements. If ‘Strelka’ has a well mixed amount of melody and riffs, the following ‘Qarqom’ is a crazy ride that on the one side demonstrates the talent of the band in terms of execution, but on the other side is a bit too much: there’s no escape, it keeps you constantly on the move and you’ll need to sign with relief. The following tracks ‘Lluvia’, ‘Belenos’ and ‘Viesca’ instead have a great balance of post-metal, post-rock and progressive rock associated with both dark and light moments and their dynamics makes them more appealing. ‘Viesca’, in particular, has the most atypical sound thanks to that trumpets that gives to the all track an unexpected lightness. It’s final is glorious.
The album achieves its best moment with the song ‘Kitsune’ whose title refers to the Japanese myth of Kitsune. It’s not by chance that the band used this song as album preview: the idea of the myth of the Japanese fox ended to influence the whole album and from the music point of view this track encapsulates everything that Toundra have done so far. The dual guitars and the bassist here do their best to deliver a great atmosphere with just enough distortion with the collaboration of the drums that know exactly the time to kick in. The structure of the eight minutes track fluctuates between energetic guitar riff and dynamic drumbeat that explode together in a fast, brilliant and perfectly executed rhythm.
IV is an album that requires more than one listening to be fully understood. It misses that contrast between warm melodies and heavier moments I need to enjoy and to feel a record to the full but if you give it the attention it deserve you’ll conclude that Toundra has delivered an album that is interesting, engaging and fresh, as much as it’s possible in this music genre.