By Karen A. Mann. Hailing from Wilmington, NC (home of Weedeater, Sourvein and ASG), Toke, carry on the Cape Fear smoked-out sludge tradition but take it on their own anxiety-laden negative trip. They self-released an impressive album of feel-bad doom and a split with Charlotte’s Green Fiend in 2015.By Karen A. Mann
Hailing from Wilmington, NC (home of Weedeater, Sourvein and ASG), Toke, carry on the Cape Fear smoked-out sludge tradition but take it on their own anxiety-laden negative trip.
They self-released an impressive album of feel-bad doom and a split with Charlotte’s Green Fiend in 2015. Earlier this year they released one of their best songs to date, the heavily groovy and slightly jammy “Legalize Sin,” on their Bandcamp.
Now they’re back with a full album, (Orange), that solidifies their position as a band to be reckoned with, and in spots even manages to live up to their ferocious live shows. “Legalize Sin” and “Four Hours for Hours” from the Green Fiend split reappear on this release.
|Photos by Karen|
It’s no secret as to what these dudes are all about: Their name is Toke, their logo is a pot leaf, and their tag line is “rips and riffs.” But Toke’s high isn’t a happy, social one. Theirs is the kind of deeply paranoid high where you find yourself totally alone with the demons in your skull and no way to climb out.
(Orange) opens with “Blackened,” a song that, musically at least, isn’t blackened at all but instead is raw and sludgy with fuzz, distorted and almost Southern Rock-like riffing. From there Toke tends to move between mid-tempo riffing and a head-bobbing lurch, but they’re guaranteed to give you two things with every song: that fat, heavy groove, and vocals that sound as if they’re wailing up from the depths of hell.
The lyrics that can be discerned are often anguished. When singer/bass player Bronco snarls “Lying stoned awake at night/I haven’t slept in weeks,” he truly sounds as if he’s on the verge of a breakdown. In the middle of the “Within the Sinister Void,” the album’s final, doomiest track, he lets loose with a tortured wail. In Toke’s world everything seems pretty bleak and dark, but the riffs are so killer and the groove is so deep and nasty that you really don’t care.