Review: Toblakai – Puritans Hand

Are you someone who likes to reminice about “the old days”, where everything from music to economy was better than nowadays? Were you there, back in the early 80’s, when black metal was born, and you loved the brutality and the raw production of those records? Do you often think to yourself: “I hate the polished sound of those posers, who pass for metal these days”?

Maybe Toblakai is just the thing for you.

Given the band is named after an ancient warriorrace from the Malazan Book of the Fallen-bookseries, we can assume two things here:

1.) Bandleader René Müller is probably a huge nerd.


2.) The sound of this album is no coincidence.

You wonder why the album intentionally sounds like they recorded it on a phone in a dark alleyway? Well, it’s supposed to sound like the albums that started the black metal-genre back in the 80’s. Like Venom’s sophomore effort Black Metal, Bathory’s self titled debut, or the early output of Switzerland’s Celtic Frost.

It’s called “authenticity”. Look it up (I sure had to).

The project started out as a “dumping ground” for riffs and ideas René couldn’t use in his other bands (Doomed to Fail, Brownstone Inc., Wastegate), but quickly became an outlet, where he could pay hommage to his satanic heroes of old.

Backed by two of his Doomed to Fail-bandmates, Müller wrote all of the music, and produced and mastered the entirety of the album by himself. Propelled by the boredom of being quarantined.

Vocalist Immanuell Liebmann helps out with lyrics, growls and sceams, while Alexander Fürbass provides his excellent drumming-skills.

As someone who has no nostalgic feelings about oldschool-blackmetal whatsoever, I’m amazed at how much I grew to really like this album (aside from the production).

Starting it off is the nihilistically titled Each Beginning Brings an End. It’s one of the more melodic songs on the album and sounds more like early Amon Amarth then black metal. But mixing different old-school styles is exactly what makes this record exciting.

Directly followed by the thrashy Tyrant, and the epic title track, it becomes clear Toblakai don’t care about genre-boundaries. As long as it’s metal of course.

Hail to the Insane‘s riff sounds a little like good ol’ early 80’s Judas Priest. It’s one of only two songs on the record, that are sung by maestro Müller himself. The other being the almost punky Darkest of Thrones.

Even the good old 12-bar format found its way on Puritans Hand. Mostly used in the blues, it comes in the form of the groovy Death Hippie.

Another tradition in old-school metal, that is paid homage to on this record, is “giving song-intros their own number, so the album looks longer”.

Ending the album, is the combo of Prelude to Chaos/Chaos Legions. Like the rest of the album, it’s hard to pin it to any specific genre. Two things that are for sure though, is that it’s an excellent album-closer, and it’s definitely metal.

If you’re exclusively a fan of modern metal, with all its polished edges, and multi-layered guitars, then you will probably have a hard time listening to this album. This album is exclusively for old-school lovers.

And it delivers magnificently.

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