The Tossers - The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Cover Artwork)

The Tossers

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (2005)


After three times, The Valley of the Shadow of Death gets better with each listen, but it still sounds weak and lax for the Tossers' first release on Victory Records. That's not to say it's a bad album, but after more than ten years, Chicago's Irish punks don't seem to be as innovative in their music as on previous albums. To be blunt, it just gets boring.

The album opens with "Goodmornin' Da," which is decent enough. However, it nowhere matches the humor or style of their earlier song on the topic of drinking, "Seven Drunken Nights." There is a lackluster tribute to Dee Dee Ramone, and later a tribute to "Irish balladeer" Ronnie Drew, opening with a poem spoken by Hugh Daly, who sounds like a B-level voice actor for a National Geographic film. The band continues the familiar and tired political punk ramblings with "Go Down Witch, Down." Going beyond the common anti-Bush/Iraq complaints, the Tossers go back in time, pointing out America's WWII wrongs, and then trash the methods of Columbus. As with everything else on the album, there may be a well-spoken point, but there is nothing to the monotonous music that makes you care.

This is really a shame, because the album is not bad. The song "Crock of Gold" has potential, and many songs tell decent stories. The band just seems lacking in the energy needed for a good album here. The fun songs aren't as fun as before, while serious songs don't evoke the same kind of emotions as the ballads of Long Dim Road.

Valley isn't awful; in fact, it's alright. But in a market where so many good, new albums are being put out, it would be hard to justify recommending this album to anyone but a die-hard fan.