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Black Totem – II: Shapeshifting

Black Totem
II: Shapeshifting
by Sean Leslie at 31 May 2021, 6:53 AM

BLACK TOTEM are a death rock band from Turku, Finland, the band are by no means new comers to the world of rock music as they formed initially as a guitar and drums duo of Spit Poison and Tony Cash back in 2007, when they released their debut EP “I Brought You Back” in 2009 followed by another EP “I Will Haunt You” three years later in 2012 before going on to release their debut full length self-titled record “Black Totem” in 2015 which would be their last release as a duo as they became a four piece in 2016 with the addition of Wera Wolf and Sam Hate to the band. They’re back with their second album and debut as a four piece, titled “II: Shapeshifting” in 2021 via Svert Records.

This record is packed with ten death rock tracks for fans to enjoy. With each of the four members contributing to the vocals, Spit Poison takes on the role of lead vocalist whilst he and Sam Hate provide the heavy sounding guitars as well as Tony Cash battering his drum kit which adds to the heaviness of the bands sound which all gets held together perfectly by the bass skills of Wera Wolf. Prior to the release of this album, the band released two pre-release singles from the album, they released “Dead Meat” in December of 2020 and then released “Warlock” just over a month later in January of 2021 before releasing the album in its entirety in February of 2021.

The album’s first single “Dead Meat” is track seven on the albums track list, meaning it is proceeded by six tracks previously unheard prior to the release of this album, each track bringing something new to the table while still sounding very consistent. It can be hard to achieve that level of consistency while changing your sound so often. The track “Dead Meat” itself is quite a short track coming in at just over two and a half minutes long. This track has some old school punk vibes but also feels heavier than traditional punk music which puts it in some sort of middle ground between a punk sound and a rock or a metal sound, it has all the elements to be considered a punk rock track but just seems too heavy to be considered as such.

The albums other single “Warlock” is actually the albums closing track and I think it fits well in that spot as it’s not too long and not too short of a track being just under four minutes long, it’s the perfect length for a track as it leaves listeners excited wanting to hear more and should entice them to come back for the next release. It’s a very interesting track, it feels a bit slower paced then other tracks on the album but still also sounds like it encapsulates the sound of the album as a whole perfectly and brings it to a perfect close.

Having listened to the album in it’s entirety I can say that fans of old school punk rock or classic rock ‘n’ roll tracks will definitely find something about this album they’ll enjoy if not the album as a whole. The album is ten tracks long but it doesn’t take up your entire day to listen to, none of the tracks are too long they all end around the four minute mark at most and you won’t even realise four minutes had passed by. Definitely a band worth keeping an eye on in the future that’s for sure.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
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/Guitar
Wera Wolf – Bass/Vocals
Tony Cash – Battery/Vocals
Sam Hate – Guitar/Vocals
Record Label: Svart Records


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