!T.O.O.H.! – Ràd a Trest (aka Order and Punishment)

This crazed band from the Czech republic who’s bizarre acronym for a band name stands for The Obliteration of Humanity (useless fact, they apparently used to go by the name Devastator), plays some of the wildest (and most entertaining) experimental grindcore (although honestly that genre label is not adequate to describe these guys’ sound) out there.  On this album they got signed to Earache’s avant garde sub-label Elitist, which I’d say definitely suites it.  Too bad the assholes at Earache abandoned the sub-label to release nothing but mostly weak nu-school thrash and a non-stop barrage of re-issues of their back catalogue which they continue to fail to top year after year.  Sadly this album was put out of print a mere 2 months after being released and the band had to call 'er quits due to financial troubles (thanks Earache, first you annoy me with sound adverts and auto-play videos on your site, now this?).  Talk about a kick to the nut sack. 

I don’t see a lot of average music listeners getting into this sort of thing without a background in extreme and experimental music genres.  That’s not to say this is totally inaccessible technical noise stuff, there’s plenty of melody present and catchy riffs aplenty, they just have such an off the wall sound that they aren’t going to fit into your heavy metal or rock comfort zone.  Even the acronym name of the band is kind of hard to type and harder to say, and I think it’s fitting for the challenging nature of the music.

If I had to describe the sound of a !.T.O.O.H.! album using bands for reference I’m thinking something along the lines of a gang bang between Naked City, System of a Down, Golgol Bordello, Dillinger Escape Plan, Fuck the Facts, Cephalic Carnage, and pretty much any Czech grind (Ahumado Granujo, Carnal Diafragma, Jig-Ai, Pigsty, etc) with Sigh standing on the sidelines beating off and shooting in the occasional load of spunk.  In fact, now that I mention it, if there’s any bands that would be a perfect match for a sick fucking tour lineup with these guys it would have to be blackened genre benders Sigh, and hydro-progressive death grinders Cephalic Carnage.  I can see fans of either of those groups (particularly more recent releases of both) really digging this stuff.  Shit, and I know I’ll have elitist metal heads shitting on me for this, but I’d be stoked if System of a Down ever got back together (which I’m sure is inevitable since none of their solo careers hold a candle to their original band’s popularity and eventually the coke fund will run dry) and took these guys out on a stadium run to give them some major exposure.  Many a mind would be blown methinks, and maybe it would help fix the band's financial woes. 

Yes that combination sounds off the wall, but !.T.O.O.H.! really pulls it all together into one cohesive sound that balances the jazz, tech, grind, death, folk, black, melodic and groove aspects together pretty much perfectly.  The bands combination of genres comes across quite well with a solid production job.  Their grind elements certainly have a Czech feel to it, but I was glad to hear the drums don’t have quite as much of a tin can sound to them as most of their country mates and the band’s previous recordings.  They’re a bit too triggered and bassless, but the playing is pretty fucking tight, so I can forgive it.  Guitar and bass can both be heard prominently in the mix, and are both played extremely skillfully, but with a little less down tuned distortion than some of their country mates.  To me the clear production actually works well with the bands style bringing the carnival-esque influence to the forefront moreso than if it had sounded like something such as Negligant Collateral Collapse where sludgy brutality is the name of the game.

The vocals admittedly will likely be the element that might turn some extreme metal fans off.  Rather than guttural growling, pitch shifted gurgling (which seems to be pretty common for the Czech scene) or the Jeff Walker style raspy “choked” vocals you get with most grindcore and death outfits, !.T.O.O.H.! employs a vocal style that somehow manages to pull off a combination of Gut’s “bitch scream” vocal style and black metal shrieking.  Basically it sounds like the ravings of a mad man.  They even manage to make the lyrics intelligible, although they’re all in Czech,  so unless you speak the language it might as well be a half chimp, half circus midget on crystal meth shrieking gibberish on the side of the street shaking an end of the world sign over his head.  Like I said, I could see some people really fucking hating it, but I think it totally works with the chaotic style of the band, and gives the music kind of a punk “fuck you” attitude that I dig.  On this album you also get a deeper yelled voice backing the higher pitched vocals, and even some gang vocals on occasion that also fit the bands style quite well.

So yeah, check these guys out if you want to hear some heavy and weird shit along the lines of an Eastern Eurpoean circus in the 9th level of hell.  If you can imagine Satan himself performing Russian dance to it, it’s cool music by me. Worth tracking down!!