Label: Self released
Date: October 5th, 2023
It would appear that whichever way I turn, I end up reviewing a band from the Netherlands or, as is the case with Tsuna, the westernmost part of Europe, Galiza. For instance, I can’t even remember when was the last time I had a band from Brazil on my hands. Wait, when was the latest Krisium record released? I’m almost completely neglecting Asia. As for the North America, Canada had a few moments in the spotlight. But the two relatively small regions of Europe keep occupying my stereo.
In my defense, both keep coming up with bands and releases that captivate imagination, exude powerful emotions or just shove immense quantities of wrathful aggression. Whatever floats your individual boat, you will find quality examples within these narrow borderlines.
The case with Tsuna is a complex one, since the band’s sound comprises of a series of influences this trio tried to put to good use. It’s puzzling and almost frustrating for a reviewer, digging up for whatever fragments there are in order to paint you a word picture. As a listener, an openminded one, naturally, the situation is much clearer. You are faced with a density of sound not often found on a demo recording. And yes, “Ermo” is the debut demo by this three-piece. Sure enough, the material doesn’t sound as massive as it could. Not nearly what is the norm nowadays, with all the fancy technology and digital production and mastering. There’s quite a bit lacking in that direction, as can be heard in “Lenta Morte” when it first hits the speed of light. But later on, when it slows down, it lands on your back like a ton of bricks. The weight of guitar with the density of rhythm section gets you to a claustrophobic hypnosis of Lovecraftian scale. Then there appears quite a lengthy, gentle, atmospheric part that is, to my ears, a soothing realization of coming death. It leads into a throbbing pulsation, reawakening as death has yet to dawn on a troubled soul, only to find the ultimate release in the final minute of the track. Demise through liberating shouts.
Within this description of “Lenta Morte”, you can find the key to understanding the entire “Ermo”. The three songs that found their way to this release all go beyond the ten-minute mark. Thus, there’s a necessity for an undisrupted flow to each of them. Particularly in case of such a long list of musical directions Tsuna weaves into their sound. That’s why I started this review from the outside. Not only is it a simpler sight, but also a more complete picture of what this release is all about.
Basically, “Ermo” is a journey with one destination, but many obstacles, twists and turns along the road, hidden perils and majestic sights, rainy days and starlit nights. A life in just over thirty minutes worth of music, simply put. All of that portrayed with numerous tools. So many that I cannot really lay the foundation to Tsuna. There’s no clear root to this band’s sound. I cannot say that it’s, for example, stoner metal with add-ons. Or atmospheric black metal, again with add-ons. Progressive or jazzy sludge? Nope, not quite. Screamo hardcore with stoner and black metal inputs, perhaps? No, still doesn’t capsulate what Tsuna brings to the table. Yet, all of the above is there, neatly pieced within “Ermo”. And more, actually.
I found traces of Primordial, whose atmosphere is smeared all over this demo. Pink Floyd’s experimentation with hypnotic soundscapes. Porcupine Tree’s synth and guitar blend. Serbian sludge frontrunners, Нула, hold the solution for Tsuna’s highly expressive marshland labyrinths. Countless other examples could be made. The point behind all of it is that the trio let go of all the musical inhibitions. The guys freed their inspiration in such a manner that could only go towards pure improvisation. Still, they kept the reigns firmly in their hands, therefore streamlining “Ermo” towards an unnerving end.
So, this being only a demo, albeit of substantial length, it is but a sample of Tsuna’s capability. A warning shot, if you will. Example of what will be. Wait and hear!