Sound — 8
"Ode to the Author" is the debut release of instrumental prog-rock trio Toska. The members are three quarters of the rock band Dorje. When you listen to this band compared to Dorje, you can see why this project came about. To me, Toska is to Dorje like Tremonti is to Alter Bridge - an outlet of music of a different style that wouldn't quite fit if it wasn't its own project.
When you listen to Toska, you can hear elements of the sound heard in Dorje, but the progressive element of the music has been greatly amplified in this project (which, to me, is ideal). I've always enjoyed hearing the intricate riffs of guitarist Rabea Massaad in Dorje, and to hear his riffs with an additional slab of prog pretty much guarantees this EP a spot in my "repeat until I'm sick to death of it" list.
As for the mix, I feel that the instruments gel together better in the mellower sections than in the heavier ones, but a great sound overall.
Lyrics — 9
Toska are an instrumental band, so there are no lyrics on this album (as a result, I will score this section based on an average score of the other two sections).
Allow me to bore you with some off-tangent waffling to fulfill this section's 500-character limit:
I've heard many comments on Toska's song structures, stating that with the addition of a vocalist, it just "wouldn't be Toska." I can agree with those statements, as the melodies that are usually handled by a vocalist are written for the guitar instead.
However, it does interest me to wonder what Toska would sound like with a vocalist. You could argue that it would just be Dorje, but although there are similarities between the two (and you can tell from the style that it is the same guys playing in Toska and in Dorje), I don't think it would sound exactly like Dorje. The songs in Toska have a much heavier, progressive vibe, whereas Dorje is more groove-based with hints of prog.
Having said that though, it does interest me, but I am perfectly happy with Toska being purely instrumental.
Overall Impression — 9
If you're willing to look, there are shed loads of instrumental music out there. For me, it has to have something that I really like before I would purchase any of it. Toska has that something. I first listened to this band with the expectation that after hearing Dorje, there would be plenty of great riffs, lots of groove and elements of progressive rock/metal. That's exactly what this EP offers.
Toska has done a great job on this EP, but I think that there are much better things to come from these guys. 'Ode to the Author' is a brilliant start to what I think will be a magnificent instrumental prog rock band.
Personal favourites: "Chalk Teeth," "Chasm," "Illumo."