Nov 18, 2012

Tons – Musineè Doom Session Volume 1 ...

A rather wide variety of music styles is potentially apt for dealing with obscure esoteric and mephistophelic things like witches, werewolves, UFOs, sinister oddities, etc. The three guys in the Italian band Tons, or TONS, from Torino, have righteously chosen sludge-doom and blues for their purpose. And right from their band’s name you guess whatever is coming will be heavy …Tons band is involving three young guys from the local, historically blasting hardcore scene: Steuso on guitar, Marco on drums and Paolo on bass/vocals.  Steuso is also a well-known and internationally appreciated rock poster artist. Innumerable doom, sludge, stoner, post-metal, psych etc. gigs and festivals with international bands and held in Italy and also across the borders had their best posters done by Steuso. You may also remember Steuso’s blooming cover art of the Fatso-Jetson/ Oak’s Mary split. Well, Steuso’s flamboyant, luscious graphic style is somehow contrasting with the very first visual impact of Tons’ debut opus, the dark album Musineè Doom Session Volume 1.
Forget the vivid colours. The look of this album is dark and weird like the things that are told in it. Dark brown package, a blurred vintage-looking, yellowish, innocent-looking photo of a mountain. No devils, no goats. If you look carefully will notice just some simple geometric outlines overlapping over said blurred photo, some small saucer-shaped UFOs and a door floating in the sky over the top of the mountain. The only flash of color will come when uncovering the bright green vinyl of the limited edition LP version.

But don’t get me wrong: the layout of the album, both in the special digipack and the LP editions, is extremely well cured and tricky, that is absolutely smart.  Then Tons’ music will blow you up: luscious, heavy and evil. The chilling feeling of evil will be especially conveyed by Paolo’s scary, banshee-like hissing vocals.  Why this album about that innocent-looking mountain? Tons’ hometown, Torino, in north-western Italy, is probably the best-known and most intensely satanic city in Italy. In the past the imposing valleys dissecting the Alpine belt in front of Torino were a shelter for “heretics” escaping Inquisition, and were raided by armies and gold diggers for centuries. These valleys and mountains are therefore, more than elsewhere, secular sources of hundreds of scary, gothic tales about witches, profaned tombs, evil priests, zombies, werewolves, alien visitors, bloody deeds, monsters, etc. possessing the same repulsive charm as in Yeats’ as well as Lovecraft’s gloomy tales. So Tons’ Musineè Doom Session Volume 1 is a collection of dark, heavy ballads telling about some of the weird things and grim tales that populated these guys’ childhood. The blurred photo depicts Mount Musinée in front of Torino: a pyramidal mountain with an anomalously bold, sterile top and bearing signs of unraveled, ancient rites, dolmens, carvings, and sinister will-o’-the wisp-like light phenomena and apparitions. The booklet in the album tells much about what is believed to have happened around there. It is an ideal site for weird witches’ and esoteric tales to be told in gloomy rainy nights and, why not, to be played from a slimy green LP!


 But after this long intro let’s go through the music. With its six ballads Musineè Doom Session Volume 1 will entertain you for almost 35 minutes with its trve, filthy swampy sludge and sabbathian doom vibe. Swampy music for a haunted mountain! But the inspiring “swamp” is not invaded by water lilies and dragonflies: it is a foggy swamp populated by slimy beasts that turn to blood-thirsty monsters after twilight, as in the old horror movies. The retro-looking cover photo and this swamp horror movie feeling is reinforced by the vintage spoken samples employed in the intro, like in an old episode of Cosmos documentaries.  That’s your ticket for a doom trip to this mountain and its unraveled secrets.  But the groove that invariably drenches Tons’ filthy sludge-doom heaviness suggests that these guys are having good time indeed and like to diverge excessive tension by means of shots of heavy blues psychedelia as well as with humour. As to the latter, check out the titles of some tracks: “Once Upon a Tentacle”, “Rime of the Ancient Grower”, “Tangerine Nightmare”, “At War with Yog-Sothoth” (obviously …) Anyway, Tons’ ballads are awesome slabs of distorted, weed-scented doom metal lead by sinister monolithic riffs, devastating drumming, killer dynamic accelerations reminding of the hardcore background of the band, and menacing, strained, wicked vocals. Paolo’s vocal style is unique in its blackened sickness although it shares some features with Weedeater, Bongzilla, Iron Monkey or, even better, with the “trve” banshee of black/doom, Vanessa Nocera in Wooden Stake. The generous acid psych and blues background in Ton’s style imparts a deeply infectious, retro groovy vibe to the riffs, the same swampy badassery as, for example, in Wo Fat, Down and in the more achingly bluesy moments in Eyehategod.

Try the opening eponymous track, for example, or else the second part of the stunning “Rime of the Ancient Grower”. Well, in “Rime of the Ancient Grower” you are bombed by molasse-like monotonic riffs acting like heavy dope, a bit like in Electric Wizard, while your mind is torn apart by the wild, ravaging vocals. The haunting ballad “Tangerine Nightmare” is the object of Tons’ official video. It is probably the most varied track with some radical tempo changes, variation in chanting and the evocation of truly obscure atmospheres where the pace is slowed down at maximum. Tracks “Ketama Gold” “At War with Yog-Sothoth” somehow share a similar dynamic structure as they are developed by some very tense, powerful plodding to galloping riffing. In “Ketama Gold” however I get thoroughly conquered, i.e. I’m definitely dragged into one of those caves and crypt of that nasty mountain, when those sick vocals are added in the last two minutes. The 7 minutes-long final, powerful instrumental track “At War with Yog-Sothoth” starts with a disturbing, wavy buzz but the plodding leading riffage will soon grow and develop in its full epic power.  So, probably nothing new was invented but what is heard here is highly rewarding and very well done. Top-notch production and mastering were, respectively, in the hands of Danilo “Dano” Battocchio (in band Last Minute to Jaffna) and Lorenzo Stecconi (in band Lento). Tons’ debut album Musineè Doom Session Volume 1 is the fiftieth, number 50, release of the lively underground Italian label Escape From Today.  A significant goal for an underground label and an excellent debut for Tons. We’ll hear more from them. I can see it in my crystal ball …

Words: Marilena Moroni

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Tons – Video: Tangerine Nightmare





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