The Fischer brothers, who go by the two-syllable pseudonyms Marsn and Hanson, came up with the idea of Pigeon Toe in 2008. Having played separately in the bands Fear My Thoughts, Mongouse and Backslide they pooled their resources into a new band, bringing drummer Norman Lonhard and guitarist Patrick Hagmann from Fear My Thoughts along for the ride. Lonhard is better known these days for manning the kit with another (unrelated) Fischer in extreme metallers Triptykon. The band is rounded out by Ben Krahl on bass. Pigeon Toe are set to release the first fruits of this union with debut album “The First Perception”, available from 24th April on Lifeforce Records.
Fear My Thoughts were a melodic death metal band. With 3 ex-members in this new project can we expect similar from Pigeon Toe? Well the melody is still there for sure, there are flashes of metal riffing in places, and the ballsy drumming of Lonhard pushes the feel in that direction, but The First Perception is steadfastly a heavy prog album and a damn good one. I fall short of calling it prog metal. You won’t find the clichés of the genre here – no widdly instrumental wigouts or operatic vocals – just killer songs full of twists and turns and dynamic shifts. Guitars are overdriven rather than saturated in metal distortion, and there is a warm vintage 70s vibe about the production.
With 3 guitarists in the band there is scope for some head-turning polyrhythmic interplay. Think the intro to Oceansize’s ‘Catalyst’ or chunkier sections of King Crimson’s latest incarnations. Ploughing a swathe through the interlocking riffs is Lonhard’s outstanding drumming. Once the guitars, bass and drums are locked in Pigeon Toe create a glorious slightly-off-kilter groove that will have you wondering whether to bang your head on the off-beat, try to move to the odd time signatures or just marvel at how they can fit a hooky harmonised vocal melody over the top of the maelstrom.
What this band does so well is, despite the singalong vocal harmonies, they allow the instrumental sections to breathe. Song structure is fluid – vocal sections lead seamlessly into instrumental breaks which take their time to make their point, nothing is rushed and yet nothing ever outstays its welcome. While some sections may sound jammed there is a very precise and measured order to the compositions which reveals itself with subsequent listens. This is an album that makes me want to pass my driving test just so I can blast it out of a convertible at open-mouthed hipsters.
If I were to describe this music in shorthand as a hybrid of Tool and Fair To Midland you would have a fair idea what to expect on your virgin listen but that is to slight Pigeon Toe as derivative which is very much not the case. There is bags of personality and individualism on this release. This is as good a debut as you will hear this year.