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...Not Again... - 38%

DawnoftheShred, February 21st, 2008

I really hate being misled by someone’s loose application of a genre tag. I acquired this Totem album under the impression that I would be hearing a promising new deathrash band. Unfortunately, these guys sound just like any other mislabeled modern death-core band. Though there are some interesting moments on Day Before the End in the form of nice lead guitar moments and Eastern sounding passages, most of this is generic rubbish.

Early on in this album, it becomes painfully apparent that Totem avoids the use of fast tempos. Maybe it’s just the old-school in me, but a requirement of death and/or thrash is a regular dose of fucking speed. Totem does not seem to grasp this essential element of extreme metal, as they repeatedly fail to accommodate their riffage with the proper tempo, content instead to plod around invariably in mid-to-slow paced monotony. All of the things you look for in modern metal are here: the constant double bass, downtuned guitars, the melody over the madness. But there are little to no aspects of good death or thrash. Even the vocals fail to be aggressive, going so far as to include clean parts. This is a serious no-no: clean vocals in death metal just don’t work.

But Totem’s missteps aside, they do have some nice ideas occurring at times. The guitar solos are quite good, utilizing exotic vibes more often than not. There’re some interesting layering techniques occurring with the instrumentation and the drummer is also proficient. Not enough to justify the album at hand, but it shows that these guys might actually amount to something in the future. Cut out the clean vocals and up the tempo a bit and I might just have to give credit where it’s due. In the meantime, I recommend you pass this one by.