I first encountered Santa Ana’s Tozcos at a chaotic backyard party, during the annual Manic Relapse fest in Oakland in the summer of 2017.
Like most, I was there to see the Swedish juggernaut Meanwhile and drink Mai Tai’s in the sun more than anything else but from the minute they launched into their set, I was smitten with these SoCal punk rockers and I wanted to ingest everything they released which, despite existing for around five years, was just an EP and demo. It almost felt like they were teasing us, just giving a taste and leaving us hungry for more—thankfully the main course has arrived in the form of their LP on Verdugo Discos.
Let’s make no bones about it, Tozcos plays hardcore punk—tense, frantic, driving yet with a smattering of melody. In an era when bands that have more in common with Slayer get labeled hardcore, it's a relief to hear a band that plays intense, rapid-fire music, that gets both heavy and weird without relying on metallic crunch or overt displays of masturbatory fret gymnastics to get the point across.
Instead, Tozcos takes their cues from myriad of more ‘traditional’ sources—think the frenzied and twitchy Italian hardcore styling of bands like Cani, Impact, and Negazione put into a blender with the more melodic attack of Spanish bands like Torreos After Olé and toss in a hint of that raunchy SoCal strut expressed in X’s “Nausea."
Yes, dropping names and making comparisons is lazy but what’s important here is they drink down this cocktail of influences and create something that sounds refreshingly new and relevant.
To me, this is what great bands do—take bits and pieces from that which came before them, take it apart and then put it back together in their own fashion towards the goal of creating something better than the sum of its parts. To me, Tozcos does this and more. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we hear from them.
Sueños Deceptivos is available via Verdugo Discos.