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Black Totem – II: Shapeshifting

Black Totem
II: Shapeshifting
by Will Travers at 21 February 2021, 7:59 AM

Finland is country steeped in Heavy Metal history, bringing Metal to the mainstream with the heavyweights LORDI tearing up the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2006 (I recently found the album I bought on the back of that performance when I was 11!). But, today we have BLACK TOTEM, their remit? Well, buckle up… Blackened Blues with Doom and Punk influences. I am sincerely looking forward to how these contrasting styles will come together. It’s like Christmas come early!

The artwork is an horrific affair. The image seemingly coming more to life the longer that I look at it, we shall have to see whether the music will live up to the imagery here! Opening with “Begone Vampire” you can instantly feel the blues influences with the walking and bouncy rhythm, the pace and tone is very aggressive, but so far is lacking the substance that I was hoping for. “The Devil” pulls the pace back a bit, and the Blues Rock really comes to the fore, with a dirty sultry riff and atmosphere, you can just see the dark dirty bar this music yearns to be played in. A hat tip to Sam for his absolutely sublime guitar tracking through this.

“1990’s” seems to be a nostalgic look back to that popular focal decade… you guessed it, the nineties. Whilst the main body of the tracking is very similar to what has come so far, there is a flourish of life and energy towards the latter stages, where BLACK TOTEM really comes to life. “Bloodstained Owl” stood out to me straight away, with ululation and just a very bizarre atmosphere, it is very fun to listen to.

I’m going to focus on the two now released singles. First is “Dead Meat”, this definitely airs on the more Punk side of things, with a breathless pace and chaotic structure. The overall structure and feel however, seems to pull in some styles from Stoner or Desert Rock. Finally, there is “Warlock” which is stripped back, relaxed and very enticing. The silky rhythms and riffs just sways the listener away on a wave of aural pleasure.

Overall, this is an interesting release. I think that it definitely falls into Blues or Southern Rock. The influences are there, but they are very subtle. Whilst the album is enjoyable, I did feel that the momentum was lost quite early on and the music turned into a bit a slog to listen to. Fans of the likes of XII BOAR or ORANGE GOBLIN should snap this one up!

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Begone Vampire
2. The Devil
3. 1990’s
4. Black Nekro Gloves
5. Bloodstained Owl
6. Ghoul Of Crow Swamp
7. Dead Meat
8. Backyard Corpse Blues
9. Welcome Lucifer
10. Warlock
Spit Poison – Vocals
Sam Hate – Guitar/Vocals
Wera Wolf – Bass/Vocals
Tony Cash – Drums/Vocals
Record Label: Svart Records


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