Totem Skin

Still Waters Run Deep

Written by: MN on 16/11/2013 20:23:27

Swedish sextet Totem Skin are one of those bands that are firmly grounded within the hardcore movement but still roam around in the vicinities of other subgenres. After having listened to their EP "Totem Skin", the anguish in the vocals had me enthralled to listen to some more. I really enjoyed how their use of over-cranked guitar feedback made their overall sound extremely raw. This release named "Still Waters Run Deep" contains two tracks from the EP, plus five new ones to a total of seven gut-wrenching hardcore tracks. Their expression is slightly misanthropic, the anguish of forlorn hearts is riveting and massively brought to life by a duo of screaming vocalists. I chuckled heartily at their facebook description of themselves: "We are a bunch of emopunks trying to play grind", and I can see where they are coming from. They do not abide by conservatism as their music straddles the borders of both doom metal and black metal. It is a record on which I'm sure fans of Neurosis and Isis can appreciate Totem Skin for their thick heavy passages, whilst fans of Cedron can find comfort in the mind-numbingly aggressive drumming.

Track opener "Kargt Landskap" is a thunderous and lengthy opener, the title translates to "barren land" in English which seems a felicitous title to the song. The track conjures images of desolate lands, depleted resources and overall neglect, perhaps with some political undertones. One of the prime highlights, the song is a mixture of balls-to-the-wall hardcore, sludgy verses and interludes with crazy blastbeats.

"The Romans Make a Desert and call it Peace" and "In Darkness I Sleep" are hardcore smashers, yet I find them a bit dull in comparison to the phenomenal "At The Forest Edge" that has an awesome melodic line to go with the aggression. "Seasons Don't Fear The Reaper, We Can Be Like They Are" is hands down the best track on the record containing a midsection of a vocal recording from a female confessing remorse to a lover she will depart from, either through suicide or inevitable death. There is something deeply tormenting about this passage and it stays with you for a while. The final verse has the screams of "You Make Me Happy" ringing in your ears.

Totem Skin surprised me with their quality of recording and the sheer power in their soundscape, that is however expected from a sextet hardcore band. The seven tracks does however feel a little bit insufficient for a full recording, especially seeing that certain songs felt painfully repetitive, but there are some A+ tracks on here that will survive on my most played list for quite a while and I am curious to see how they plan to follow up on this beast. I would hope to see them continue to stray away from the conservative hardcore expression and keep adding more influences from whatever they encounter in the future.


Download: Kargt Landskap, At The Forests Edge, Seasons Dont Fear The Reaper, We Can Be Like They Are
For The Fans Of: Heart In Hand, Cedron

Release Date 29.10.2013
Dog Knights Productions

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