Torii - Torii

Torii is a solo artist from Arkansas that performs a mix of death metal, doom, and progressive for an album that hypnotizes and unsettles. Bill Masino performs all the instruments and vocals with a thick sound on a lot of tracks and others that are simple, quiet, and balance out the swirling abrasive sound of the guitars, drums and vocals. Tracks like ‘Grey Expanse’ are an excellent example of what doomy haze mixed with muddled growls that Masino can perform at his simplistic heaviest, and despite the hazy atmosphere, he does a good job at making sure the drums and bass can be heard without shrouding everything in a way that a group like Xasthur might have done on earlier albums. Other tracks like ‘Persephone’ are a complete 180, shedding all heaviness for simple acoustic guitar picking and keyboard work which is almost devoid of any metal presence of all, but a great way to break up the album and add more depth even though many death and doom metal purists might skip it and go for the heaviness instead.

One things that Torii does is let the instruments do most of the work, especially on the epic tracks. Even on a droning, drawn out piece like ‘Eurydice’ Masino only includes a short bit of vocals before focusing on the psychedelic sound of the guitars and drums with the slow hypnotic pace, and while it is heavy it still has a touch of softness to not create too anxious of an atmosphere. The sci fi tone of the guitars can be rather scary also with the thumping bass so the atmosphere is created on a doom laden level that doesn’t require thick reverb or heavy snarled vocals constantly. Then there are tracks like ‘Void’ which feel like filler even though the space keyboard sound suits the album tone, but compared to the dynamics of the other tracks listeners might feel a bit bored with this one. Other tracks like ‘Torii’ are much more engaging with the balance of soft and heavy as Masino takes the elements of a track like ‘Synthetic Dust’ and ‘Persephone’ and mixes them together. While the shrouded vocals are hard to understand and the overall simplicity of the music just churns along without too much change in between, the solid dynamics will keep listeners hooked for the full 8 minutes.

There is a healthy mix of short and long tracks here, and while a lot of them aren’t the longest thing Masino has done compared to past works (this self titled effort would be album no. 7), the guys has had almost 10 years to find the right balance for his craft.While some artists find a niche and crank out a similar sounding album over and over, Torii at least tries to vary things here and there, either by going softer and more thoughtful with their work or thicker and heavier. Compared to the last effort “Judgement Divine” Masino went for the softer, adding more instrumental tracks which in turn adds more dynamic. A lot of listeners might be turned off by the lack of heaviness, but overall “Torii” is another thoughtful, crafted piece of doom death mixed with progressive elements that while shrouded and simple isn’t quite as much of a bore as one might feel when hearing a typical death doom album with long, 10 minute tracks, thick reverb riffs and cavernous vocals that rival the drumming for loudness. Masino should be proud of the work he has done as his balance of soft and hard sound can be compared to the likes of Panopticon, which takes things more of a black metal route but follows the same idea of trading heavy, thick tracks for brief softer interludes here and there that are slow and wonderous despite not being quite as ‘metal’ as one might think. Tori definitely sounds like they are almost going more of a post metal direction, which just adds more depth to their overall repertoire.

4 / 5 STARS

1. The Second Renaissance
2. Synthetic Dust
3. Persephone
4. Eurydice
5. Grey Expanse
6. Void
7. Inertia
8. Torii

Self released
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Jan 6, 2022

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