19 September 2013

Toehider - To Hide Her

Less than than a fortnight ago I had no idea this band existed.  I stumbled onto them purely by accident whilst bobbing about in the internet.  Singer Mike Mills (not the R.E.M. one) is apparently going to be on the next AYREON project which is where my stumbling occurred. I thought the name of his band was a bit odd and investigated. The results of my investigations were most intriguing.

Toehider are essentially a one man band, Australian Mike Mills (mentioned above) who writes, sings and plays the majority of their material. Over time he’s built up a permanent band around him but it’s still very much all about Mike.

Musically they’re a hard band to categorise. At their core Toehider are a Progressive Metal band but rather than the stern, humourless image that most bands in that genre have, Toehider have a strong sense of the irreverent and of fun.

There’s a strong pop element throughout a lot of their work and they come across as a hybrid of Devin Townsend and, cult 90’s Power Pop band Jellyfish.  Mike Mills’ voice also has the clarity of Jellyfish’s Andy Sturmer and the soaring, power metal falsetto of Devin.

To Hide Her is their debut album but follows over a dozen very eclectic E.P.s. most have them had a specific musical style such as: Pop Rock, Post Rock, acoustic Folk, full on Metal, Spoken Word etc.

To Hide Her mixes up all these genres but, while being quite varied, still sounds coherent and flows well. Opening track, Oh My God He’s An IDIOT is a gentle ballad about unrequited love that’s an unusual song to start with but sets up the opening riff of The Most Popular Girl In School nicely. This song is a perfect example of their sound, with crunchy riffs and poppy verses. It’s apparently the lead single from this album which makes sense.

Elsewhere, the title track To Hide Her is the nearest on here to big, dramatic, Prog Metal, Giants Who Walk With Man evokes classic rock from the Seventies and Everybody Knows Amy is a great poppy rock song regarding bassist Amy Campbell and, unsurprisingly, all the people who know her.

The album highlight is the 7 minute epic power ballad, There’s A Ghost In The Lake. I’m not sure if it’s about suicide or murder but it’s, a ha ha, haunting and disturbing,

The album finishes rather disappointingly in the form of Fireside,  an acoustic torch song about Mike spending time with his dad. It’s a nice song, well written but as it’s followed by Aren’t They Just Out Playing On The Swing?, which is almost seven minutes of droning feedback, it means the album kind of sputters out.  Personally I think it would have been better finishing with something big and heavy which this album lacks. I suppose they wanted to show off as many of their genres as possible which is understandable but the album suffers for it a little.

7 out of 10 This is good and well worth a check
They don't have any videos from this album here's a live version of The Most Popular Girl In School.

The only (sort of) proper video I can find is for a song that's not on this album but it's good, and probably their heaviest song But Mostly Metal.

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