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A good release needing more polish - 73%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 29th, 2014

With a name like Totalselfhatred, this band sure is no advocate or purveyor of banal self-help advice and positive thinking pabulum. Formed by members of other Finnish bands, TSH began as a trio and it was this line-up that recorded the promotional work in 2006 that's under review here. The release attracted the attention of French label Osmose Productions, TSH signed up and became a more sustained project (and still going as of the time of this review) adding three more members in later years. So we can assume that the promo must have been something special to have set things in motion for the band.

The title track is a very pained being, full of the agony of having been alive, longing all the while for peace and now in torment on the verge of death. The music is a mix of sorrowful and tragic depressive BM (if a little on the tinny side) with some acoustic instrumentation and harsh death-metal vocals that emphasise the trauma suffered by the protagonist. Though the song is repetitive and the musical approach tends towards the minimal with synth drums providing the beat and pace and no more, it never seems monotonous: the musicians do a fine job of using repetition to create and drive the feeling of anguish and pain.

"Mighty Black Dimensions" is on the stodgy side and thin: though there are at least two or three vocalists here, the combination sounds comical and cartoonish and detracts from the song's impact. This should have been an earnest search for answers to questions of one's purpose in living. Solo piano and some cutting guitar riffing eventually rescue the track from being a wipe-out. Bringing up the rear, "Carving" reclaims some respect by mixing up fast-paced stop-start rhythms, fiery guitar soloing attacks, blast-beats, some solemn melodies and duelling grim and clean-toned vocals.

The promo isn't entirely bleak and the last song despite its lyrics actually sounds quite heroic and defiant. Parts of it sound like a seesawing folk metal song and the singers seem to enjoy themselves as they sail through. While the songs are varied musically and the musicians stretch their talents as much as they can in a small set of songs, they are let down by a weak drums-and-bass section. The music sounds thin all the way through and can barely hold up under the demands of the songs. Too much stress is thrown onto the voices, acoustic instruments and ambient sections to carry the songs and some of these elements have to be used sparingly. Energy is lacking and the songs have less force than they should.

For its flaws though, the promo carries promise in TSH's songwriting and musical skills and it's easy to see why the band was signed to Osmose Productions. At a later time the band could revisit this promo and re-record the songs with better and more polished backing.