By: Al Necro
Totem Skin | facebook | bandcamp |
Released on March 4, 2016 via Halo of Flies Records
Metal is a many-splendored thing, and grindcore is but one of its many splendored sub-genres. The result of death metal and punk getting a dose of metamphetamine, grindcore hasn’t evolved much from the earlier releases in its heyday. What keeps it alive is simple: it’s intense, it’s fun to mosh to, and it’s almost always addictive.
Some metallers can’t quite get grindcore. It’s for the few, that’s for sure. As wild and sloppy as early grindcore bands intended for it to be, we sometimes run into an act that polishes it up and does so without fucking it up. Enter Totem Skin and their album Weltschmerz, a release by noise, punk, grind, doom armada Halo of Flies Records, and you’ll swear that the band sought to do KEN mode a tribute, but this is not actually a KEN mode clone.
In fact, Weltschmerz is a fun ride into the rocky countryside, provided the carseats don’t have much padding in them. Totem Skin unleash a barrage of high-speed punk riffs and blasts, plus the occasional chugging riffs when they slow down the pace.
What we have here is a grindcore fan’s wet dream in extra long runtime times seven tracks worth of a full-length album. These aren’t pointless short bursts of snare drum and chord transition armageddon. These tracks are carefully spaced, carefully-controlled and nuanced with brief touches of clean guitar, doom and hardcore. This is not sloppy insanity a la Pig Destroyer, whom I love with all my banging head, but Totem Skin may carve out a niche for its use of nice production and occasional ambient touches.
The production lends everything a fidelity unheard of in most of grindcore’s history. Therefore, the drums are audible, the bass sends life to the drumming and the guitars are as clear as crystal. As a result, the riffs shine and the drumming sends holes through the walls. Who thought that this was possible?
While grindcore is an obvious genre tag fitting the description of this music, Halo of Flies has truly unearthed another genre-bending platter of extreme noise terror. The bass drums bludgeon the listener with a subwoofer only half-way loud.
Consider getting this album from Halo of Flies if you’re a grind fan. If not, it’s a good way to start seeing if grindcore’s your kind of thing. Otherwise, if you’re a Bring Me The Horizon fan in metaller’s clothing, stay out of our scene and get the fuck out while you can.