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Toby Driver - They Are The Shield CD (album) cover


Toby Driver



3.80 | 69 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars 4.8 Stars. Wonderful violin driven Prog

Sometimes it takes something special to bring oneself out of their self-imposed exile. In my case a full time job plus PhD and other work related commitments has left me with no time or energy for reviewing music. However its albums such as this one that are too good to give a 1-5 star rating to and move on. This album has left me completely captivated with its wonderful arrangements and with no reviews on this site I knew it was time to step out.

If you look though Toby's every expanding catalogue of avant-garde music, you will only find a handful of songs that can be considered beautiful and warm from start to finish. Even his softer albums such as Part the Second or Madonawhore are too caught up in their experimental ideas or cold minimalism respectively to ever consistently pull at the heart strings. The press release for this album stated it as Maudlin without the metal, or Kayo Dot without the chaos, which is a appropriate description, but it does not show how much Toby has stepped out of his comfort zone to create such a deliberately beautiful record. It is however important to note that for all the beauty on display this is still a full-blown Prog album with plenty of complex and experimental ideas to be found.

What will immediately stand out from first listen is how the strings dictate the structure and flow of the entire album. Ever since Mia fully left Kayo Dot after Hubardo we have not had any tracks with any form of strings, and it seems Toby has been growing a large stockpile of ideas since then. In many ways They are the Shield (TATS) can be seen as the successor of Mauldin's Part the Second, which up till now was his most string-dominated album. But TATS takes it to a completely new level, with some of the best arrangements I have ever heard.

For the most part TATS is a slow and fairly ambient album, but there are enough exceptions to keep it from dragging. 470 nanometers playfully shifts around and is full of energy that is ready to break out. The outros of The Knot and Glyph are full of emotion and spectacular arrangements that grasp my full attention. Despite TATS's mostly laidback tempo this 43 minute album flies by and never drops in quality, something I can only say about to a small number of albums.

I can keep going but I think I have said everything that needs to be said about this album. The only other important thing to note is that it is right now free on Bandcamp (name your price) so there is no excuse for not giving this album a try. This is a special album that I will be coming back to for many years to come, and can be ranked with Toby Driver's best material.

And now I return to my exile...

LakeGlade12 | 5/5 |


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