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!T.O.O.H.! - Free Speech review

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Band: !T.O.O.H.!
Album: Free Speech
Release date: November 2020

01. Pět Neděl Ve Srubu
02. Unést, Prcat A Čekat
03. Nácek Radikál
04. Kratochvíle Pana M
05. Proto Moudří V Ústraní
06. Tfuj, Jirko!
07. Roztřískám Jim Papule
08. Zrozen K Božským Cílům
09. Pak Jí Ruce Svážu
10. Čarovné Mlíčí
11. Poslední Hon Dcery Doktora Hamky, Majitele Nejedné Golfové Jamky
12. Komouš

!T.O.O.H.!: the band whose music is as unusual as their name. Free Speech is exactly as peculiar as you would expect a !T.O.O.H.! record to be, but is it any good?

More than most bands, !T.O.O.H.! is one that I can thank Metal Storm for introducing me to them. I almost never see a reference to them outside of this website, and even friends with interest in more extreme music have never heard of them; in contrast, one of the most prominent users of the site when I first joined had styled their username after the band's, and the hype surrounding Řád A Trest here introduced me to one of the most exciting releases under the grindcore umbrella that I've ever come across, a mesmerizing display of extremity and sheer weirdness. The group broke up shortly after the release of Řád A Trest for several years, and the resounding lack of success their comeback album Democratic Solution found (with the album currently residing in our all-time bottom 20 albums of all time at the time of publication) resulted in another hiatus. Free Speech is their second attempt at a comeback, and whilst it's still somewhat flawed, it's a far more successful attempt at what it sounded like !T.O.O.H.! were attempting on Democratic Solution.

It feels insensitive to use some of the adjectives most commonly used to describe music as exuberant as !T.O.O.H.!'s given Humanoid's schizophrenia diagnosis, but for those unacquainted with the group, the avant-garde/technical grindcore sound on their earlier material was absurdly frenetic, unpredictable, extreme and yet prone to occasional hints of melody. Democratic Solution, however, saw the punishing blast beats, savage vocals and frantic, technical guitar work all greatly diminished in prominence or thrown out altogether, with a more electronic-oriented sound with spoken/sung vocals. These questionable decisions, and the huge drop in energy that resulted from them, left most listeners completely bemused.

Although Free Speech does still utilize some of the electronic elements introduced on Democratic Solution (the brash video game-esque synths that accompany the first vocals on "Pět Neděl Ve Srubu" make an immediate impression), they're substantially less prominent, and have been incorporated more naturally alongside the extreme metal aspects from Řád A Trest that had been left by the wayside. Regular blast beats, highly technical guitar work, chop-change song structures and nasty rasps are mercifully back in !T.O.O.H.!'s sound, ensuring that Free Speech's a difficult listen for the right reasons this time; anyone familiar with their earlier albums would recognize "Čarovné Mlíčí" as a !T.O.O.H.! song. The vocals aren't entirely extreme; sung/chanted vocals pop up from time to time, such as midway through "Poslední Hon Dcery Doktora Hamky, Majitele Nejedné Golfové Jamky", and whilst they're not entirely well executed, they fit impressively well alongside music as extreme as what they are set against.

Beyond the electronics, one thing that is different here to Řád A Trest is that those melodic inclinations I mentioned earlier feel slightly amplified, primarily through the use of guitar solos on Free Speech. These certainly weren't absent before (the one song from the group that has particularly endured for me, "Kálí", has extensive melodically-inclined soloing towards its end), but I don't remember them appearing as often as they do here, with particularly memorable stretches on the likes of "Pak Jí Ruce Sváu", "Zrozen K Boským Cílům" and particularly the closer "Komou", the longest song here and one that is particularly dominated by semi-melodic guitar solos/duets, with the impressively technical basswork that is a feature of the record on full display here.

Free Speech is still a way off the sheer chaotic brilliance of Řád A Trest, lacking quite a lot of the memorability that said album managed to fit into the likes of "Al-Amín" and "Abu-Hassan" despite the breakneck technicality. Additionally, the electronic drum kit sound here does lack some power, limiting the songs somewhat. However, it feels like a far more natural successor to that album than Democratic Solution, and given the dearth of bands that even come close to what !T.O.O.H.! were doing on their earlier albums, anyone hankering for more should at least give Free Speech a try and see what they make of it.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 10
Production: 6

Written on 29.11.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 5   Visited by: 97 users
29.11.2020 - 22:30
Definitely a lot more enjoyable than Democratic Solution, but I still wish !T.O.O.H.! were still as good as they were original.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
30.11.2020 - 23:57
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
First band what comes up in search, news and so on, so... But i listened it in 2004, never after and never will. Its True this band is not know outside ms unless youre Czech, slovak ir polish grindcorer.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
01.12.2020 - 15:07
I can confirm that, maybe add a regular metalhead into the list. I actually believe I found out about this band here as well.
01.12.2020 - 20:26
delicious dish
I think it overall sounds way more like Order and Punishment again, but I still don't quite like it. They still miss that full sound that was somehow present on "Pod vládou biče", which I recently was really surprised by when I gave it a listen. I don't know if it's the composition or the very abrupt approach vs. the seemingly more layered one on the latter. There are sill some highlights here, but a lot of it doesn't really blow me away as much. Second half of Komous is really cool, but still lacks some punch even then.
You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
01.12.2020 - 20:58
Rating: 7
Troy Killjoy
Excellent description of the album. Covers why it sounds better than its awkwardly executed predecessor despite borrowing heavily from its overall sound, and explains what to expect with references to previous material.

Also 69 👌
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."

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