Tohu are a duo from England whose approach to shredding black metal possesses a certain kind of invasive magic that makes their four song self-titled demo supremely addictive. Not only are these four songs honed to a near-fatal sharpness and glowing red hot, they’re audible!
Tohu – Tohu
Two days after Christmas last year, Tohu unleashed their demo on the world. We here at Demo:listen HQ reached out immediately. We met A., who told us: “Tohu is a two-piece band at the moment, although very soon a third member should join us, which will make it possible to play live. I started writing the tracks back in 2006 but didn’t do anything with them until I met L.—the drummer—in 2015. My main instrument is guitar, I’m also responsible for vocals.
As for the name Tohu, A. says: “‘Tohu’ is part of the description of earth before creation of light. In Genesis, it is described as ‘tohu wa-bohu,’ which means ‘formless and void,’ a state of non-being. ‘Tohu’ itself can also be translated as ‘emptiness’ or ‘nothingness’ and is directly related to the Chaos mythos that I’ve always found interesting.”
The playing on Tohu practically garots the listener it’s so tight—especially for a demo. It’s no surprise to find out that A. and L. are already in other metal bands. A. tells me that he’s also in Abysm and Sulphurhaze, while L plays in Soulphernus.
“It was around 2005, 2006 when the idea for Tohu began to crystallize,” A. remembers. “Initially I thought of a band that would mix the dark Death Metal influences of e.g. Incantation or Sadistic Intent, with pre-Norwegian Black Metal (VON, Blasphemy, old Impaled Nazarene, etc.). As it turned out, all the Death Metal ideas found their way into Abysm tracks and Tohu remained Black Metal, with the focus on creating a trance-like atmosphere . . .”
A. continues to describe the process of bringing Tohu from nothingness . . .
“The writing process was very quick and spontaneous. I remember at that time I was very much obsessed with Satanic Blood demo, listening to it on repeat for weeks. From there came the inspiration and before I knew it, the tracks were ready. Two more songs were written around the same time, but they did not stand the test of time and were rejected.
A. says that recording Tohu’s demo was also “quick” and “straightforward.”
“Everything was recorded in one day in a small local studio in Manchester, where I live,” says A. “It was the mixing, where we encountered problems. Basically, the guy who recorded us had no idea how to make the demo sound the way we wanted. He tried to give us the usual, overly compressed and polished sound that is the norm in most of nowadays “metal” but there was no way we would accept the demo sounding like that! So I took the unmixed tracks to Tom Dring at Vagrant Recordings, who thankfully understood what we were after and mixed & mastered it properly . . . [T]he sound is as important as the music itself. That filthy, raw, barely controlled spirit must be immediately audible. If anything, I see our future releases sounding even more hostile, barbaric and primitive. That’s the only way to go.”
The first song on the demo “Blood Call” was actually the last song Tohu wrote.
“I thought that first riff would be a great opener so that is why we put it in the beginning of the demo,” A. explains. “The intro is thematically connected with the lyric, which tells a slightly altered tale of crucifixion, with the Nazarene being tormented by demons feasting on his dying flesh.”
The whole demo provides equal parts hypnosis and concussion, but “Deathbrand” stands out as perhaps the deadliest of all four tracks.
“‘Deathbrand’ is the most straightforward song on the demo, with hardly any breaks or changes. L. always says this is the most hypnotic one for him as a drummer. The chanting repetitiveness of the lyric and vocal pattern are heavily inspired by VON and if I remember correctly, some Transilvanian Hunger influence sneaked in the guitar parts as well.”
Meanwhile, the physical manifestations of Tohu’s reckless deployment of their most abject power lurk in obscurity just overseas . . .
“At the moment, there is only a limited number of tapes available at Iron Bonehead Productions,” says A. “We are still looking for a label to work with, but if there is no movement in that area, we’ll just make more tapes, provided there is demand. Time will tell . . .”
A says Tohu can look forward to “more rehearsals . . . Hopefully with the third member on board,” as well as “some gigs.”
“We are working on new tracks for a full length, but there will probably be one more demo before that. Beware, it will be even more savage than the first one.”