Take Over and Destroy – Vacant Face | Review

Last year Take Over and Destroy received much in the way of praise for their first full-length Endless Night. TOAD have come right back with Vacant Face. The Arizona sextet's follow-up consists of 11 tracks spanning over 46 minutes.

Basically they marry up a death and roll crunch with 70s occult rock. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's not as simple as it may seem though as they also work in some classic rock and even NWOBHM influences.

Pete Porter's organs are ever-present. Even when they aren't obvious they're lurking in the shadows. In a way they dominate the album. Vacant Face feels very gothic from front to back and that's due to the atmosphere the eerie keys and ambient synths provide. It can also be a sticking point for listeners who don't like their spine chilled that way.

Vocalist Chthon also pulls from that sort of classic doom era when he's got his clean vocals happening. That's not his strongest voice though. He's able to pull off the gravel-throated deathly rasp much more convincingly. As far as when and where he chooses to use one or the other, he has it working. Death with death, clean with “clean”.

Guitarists Alex Bank Rollins and Nate Garrett, and bassist Dylan Thomas (Landmine Marathon) work together to create many memorable riffs in both the Scandinavian death metal and occultish realms. There's plenty of power as well as melancholy, all backed by drummer Jason Tomaszewski's adaptable style.

The Haunted-meets-the-Hammond aesthetic should work well on paper and in many opinions it does. But where this writer feels the album falters is in the way it's all pieced together. Overall the album feels cohesive in that (almost) all the songs balance forceful guitars and organ-drenched atmosphere but it's the transitions that are conflicting. Switching from death to gothic often happens rather quickly, interrupting the subtle or overt groove the band can slide into.

Tracks like “Split Screen” and “Dominance Shifts” go for the jugular with more gusto than others while the organ and drum “The Fly is Awake” is graceful and peaceful and thus stand out from the pack.

It may come down to taste but it feels like TOAD are trying a little to hard to carve a niche for themselves and thus the flow seems unnatural. The little things that perhaps are supposed to make the album interesting instead feel forced and at times even disingenuous. Admittedly, much of the album does get stuck in your head but sticking to simplicity (and brevity) would go a long way towards Vacant Face's immediacy and overall appeal.

Matt Hinch

Band info: www.facebook.com/TakeOverAndDestroy

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Metal Bandcamp, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.