Toronto Blessings – Asleep (self-released, 2019)

Toronto Blessings – Asleep (self-released)

My dude from back home in Barnsley, Rik Whitehead, hit me up a few weeks ago to tell me about his new EP from his other band (he also plays in fantastic band The Lock & Keys). Toronto Blessings have been around for a while now, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t checked them out before. Which probably makes me a terrible mate. Well, that stops here. Rik has often told me that he usually likes to play in a punky band and a heavy band to keep in touch with both sides of his musical character, for want of a better description. I’m really pleased to see Rik break out of the constraints placed upon his playing by the often stiff boundaries of the metal scene.

They’ve been described elsewhere by BBC Radio 6’s Tom Robinson as ‘an all out sonic assault’. I guess that fits. They describe themselves as “combining elements of Post Punk, Alt.Rock, Noise and all this with a with an injection of pulsating synth buzz”, and take influence from the likes of Daughters,The Jesus Lizard, The Cure, Metz, Cocteau Twins, Meat Wave, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke.

To me this reminds me very much of peak At The Drive In (i.e. before their much unwanted and disappointing reunion) and classic era post-hardcore units like Drive Like Jehu and Nation of Ulysses. Of course there are elements of Refused (or shitty Nu Metal Nation of Ulysses as I call them), but thankfully it’s the good bits of Refused that are in evidence here. This music being produced here has enough of a groove and the requisite hooks for your everyday casual listener not to feel alienated by, and somehow manages to remain fresh, vital, exciting and challenging enough to appeal to the more chin-stroking elements of the post-hardcore and post-metal scenes.

Decent. Tony of Nurgle rating: 9/10.

Find out more on the Toronto Blessings Facebook page and check their full catalogue of releases on their bandcamp page

Tony of Nurgle is a true child of the North, recently returned to Yorkshire and residing in Leeds (after close to a decade living in exile in Croydon and South East London). He used to co-run a specialist record store in Manchester (Roadkill Records), and also several years as a promoter, and put on shows for the likes of Leatherface, the Loved Ones, Lucero, Minus The Bear, These Arms Are Snakes, Spy vs Spy, Latterman etc. He also spent several years DJing at shady rock clubs in Manchester, and started the infamous Thursday night "punk room" at Jilly's Rockworld. Also responsible for Middle Finger Response, and collaborated with a couple of friends on a monthly night called Refuse to Lose, which will still occasionally reunite the original DJ line-up - next event at Retro in Manchester on 07/09/2019. Apart from that, it's all bitterness and a jaundiced view of human nature, occasionally skateboarding, always exhausted, often reading books with maps in the front.

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