Teodor Tuff – Soliloquy
Reviewed by Arno Callens
Try and tell your friends you are completely swept away by a band called Teodor Tuff. They’ll destroy you with their stares. When I first heard the name of this Norwegian outfit, I thought I was in for some weak-ass hard rock or something equally dull. Yet “what must be one of the oddest band names I have ever heard” brings progressive metal like you have never quite heard it before. Or at least I haven’t.
When the first notes of “The Last Supper” hit, it’s catchy, it’s weird, and that could be said of the entire record. The sinister chanting of “We call on You, we call on You to die!” is equal parts infectious and unsettling, and that describes Soliloquy to a tee. From what I interpret as the thoughts of a suicide bomber we go to the troubled existence of an addict with “Addiction”, further showing Teodor Tuff’s knack for intelligent and insightful lyricism. Musically, “Addiction” and the following “Mountain Rose”, “Delusions Of Grandeur”, and “Mind Over Matter” betray the more straightforward side of the band, which I would fit firmly into the melodic prog category.
Yet those tunes are interspersed with more experimental material, such as “The Last Supper”. This album switches back and forth between accessible and strange so often, it’s almost like being on a date with a schizophrenic. Take “Hymn (For An Embattled Mind)”, a perfect example of Teodor Tuff throwing the listener for a loop. It trades mellow acoustics for an aggressive staccato rhythm, representing the alarming change in behavior of people setting out on a “shotgun holiday”. This mélange of discomfort and conviction runs throughout the record, as with “Heavenly Manna”, a controversial look at modern day Israel with a chorus in the form of a satirical prayer. Rather than taking a preachy stance Teodor Tuff seems to settle for sharp observations on some serious issues of our contemporary society.
“Deng’s Dictum” subsequently switches to Chinese history, with a hook based on a dictum by communist politician Deng Xiaoping: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.” (Thank you, Google.) The song is another satire (“We are equal, more equal than you.” harkens back to Orwell’s Animal Farm), and its refrain has the feel of a feline march against the mice. Never shy to tackle a bleak subject, Teodor Tuff closes out its Soliloquy with “Tower Of Power”, a scathing glance at the black pages of recent Catholic Church history concerning child molestation. As catchy as the chorus may be, I think I need some Freedom Call after this.
Soliloquy is a highly original progressive metal album, with tons of gripping melodies and thoughtfully written lyrics. Teodor Tuff may sound silly by name, but they are far from it, and any fan of this genre looking for a genuine surprise and challenge, should seek this album out.
4.25 // 5