"Holland’s oranged-out Doom outfit, Toner Low, returns in 2008 marking their tenth anniversary with the release of their second album, II. II marks different territory for the band known for Stoner jams laced with psychedelic-Doom and monster riffing, as Toner Low embraces a Drone sound—and I don’t know how I feel about it. II doesn’t totally do it for me, and I don’t know if that’s because I’m not a huge Drone fan or if the album just falls short.
II commences with ‘One,’ the first track of the record, and Toner Low hits a homerun with it. If you’re into Toner Low you’re going to love the first track. The guitars still have that warm, vintage sound, and the drums are more powerful than ever. After minutes of jamming, the band pauses and the singer croons his lyrics with one of the coolest vocal effects I’ve ever heard put on wax: imagine Ozzy’s voice on Black Sabbath’s
Songs are longer here too. Toner Low, who once averaged about seven minutes a track, now take their time. The first three tracks clock in somewhere around fourteen minutes, the last one about twenty. But that’s fine. Doom-heads should be used to it, and concerning the songwriting, the first two songs kick ass.
‘Two’ is definitely the most original track they’ve done and once again signals how this album shows Toner Low going in new directions, willing to expand. Minimalist composing and a big Drone influence are clearly the new thing for them.
‘Two’ starts off with Drone riffs that the band plays until they can’t go no more. Just when they’ve punished your ear drums with heavy bombardments of Doom, Toner Low goes soft and a lone saxophone takes over. Nice. Clean guitars that go dirty and resemble something from Fistula, are joined by, once again, the coolest vocals you’ll hear.
But that’s it for me. I absolutely love the first two tracks. The last two, not so much. Why? The songs aren’t bad, but it’s just lacking what I love from Toner Low. Once again, the last two songs are a Minimalist Drone festival, and that’s really not my cup of tea. If it’s yours, your opinion might vary on how you feel about ‘II.’ Remember the vocals I’ve been raving about? Their totally gone from the rest of the album after the second track. Track three, ‘Five’ and track four, ‘Three,’ (don’t know the meaning of the out-of-order song names, but I’d like to) are virtually instrumentals.
If you’re into, Toner Low you should probably get this album and make up your own mind. ‘II’ is still a solid release, but seems more of a transitional album, a bridge to the next album as the band tries to combine the sound of their previous outings with their new influences so you get the best of both worlds."