An unexpected bonus of working in the metal underground as a journalist is access to unsigned bands. I suspect years ago an aspiring artist might have sent a demo tape to a “Zine” hoping for a few kind words, but in this day and age a simple click of a mouse lets you send your demo to hundreds of online mailboxes across the globe simultaneously.
Honestly, I think these kinds of technical innovations have been both a blessing and a curse to aspiring artists. A musician’s first drive is to be heard then paid but illegal downloading has taken money out of the picture and being heard is no easy task now that the internet is flooded with new groups vying for attention. We’re living in a media mass market and it’s become harder than ever for the proverbial cream to rise to the top.
A journalist can still play a small role in helping a band because word of mouth has value. Even in this overblown digital age an introduction and endorsement still stand tall. Respected opinions give fans direction of where they might delve into – that flood of music then suggestively steers them towards bands they may find appealing. The process may have moved from a magazine in your mail box to a computer screen but the end result is still the same, people talk about shit that’s good!
I like a group from Brentwood California called Toy Called God. Honestly, I can’t believe this band isn’t signed. Birthed in 2010, they have a unique ‘dirty southern metal’ vibe that sounds like a cross between mainstream acts like Hellyea/Soil/Nickelback and underground thrashers Pantera.
The songs on the groups self titled, self-financed 2012 release are heavy, crisp and largely vocally driven. The singer Tyson Cliff displays utterances similar to Phil Anselmo which is a definite plus, but Tyson isn’t afraid to get low either – the ballad “Martyr Dumb” has some vocal flashes reminiscent of Layne Staley from Alice in Chains in his Dirt heyday.
The flawless execution of the rest of the band, specifically the guitar work of Patrick Donovan, let’s each individual song groove within its structure, the music is tight and polished but doesn’t come off sounding forced or overly produced.
Lyrically, Toy Called God is as varied as their album: carefree songs about drinking, screwing and jamming out are sure to appeal to most metal heads but the band has no problems getting serious, which is a good thing if maturity and lyrical progression are the next logical steps.
Finally I’ve got to mention the Toy Called God cover art which depicts an evil looking clergy man, perhaps a pope, shaking hands with what appears to be a man wearing a suit with the head of a steer/ram’s skull. The album cover reminds me of Job for a Cowboy’s debut release Doom, it’s absurdly thought provoking and kicks ass on so many levels!
Toy Call God is a solid act worth checking out. Let’s hope this group gets signed soon, I’d love to hear them follow up this soon-to-be-coveted release. \m/
1. Self Destructive
2. As I Walk this Road
3. Only One Menace
5. Soiled Dream
7. The Voodoo
8. Wild Child
9. Whatever You Say
10. Martyr Dumb
11. When I’m Dead
Toy Called God are:
Tyson Cliff – vocals
John Riggs – drums
Dustin Phillips – bass
Patrick Donovan – guitar
** Toy Called God’s Debut album can be previewed and purchased via digital download through Amazon.com.