Friday, 18 April 2014

Totem Skin - Still Waters Run Deep LP


It's great to see a band that you've been following for a long time, finally getting a full release. That's exactly what happened with Swedish hardcore band Totem Skin. After releasing their debut self-titled EP in August 2012 and then their second EP These Ghosts Are Haunting Our Halls in March last year, they joined forces with prolific UK label Dog Knights Productions to release their debut LP in October. The LP was limited to 300 copies. 100 on heavyweight 180g Black vinyl and 200 copies on rather stunning clear vinyl with black splatter. Plus the artwork is worth the price of admission on it's own.

This year, they're touring whenever possible. They'll be hitting the road in Heart On My Sleeve and will be playing shows in Germany, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic as well as playing in Brighton in September, at the awesome This Is Your Last Chance To Dance all-dayer with tonnes of awesome like-minded bands. I'm just hoping they'll make it further up North at some point.

Tracklist:-

1. Kargt Landskap
2. Still Waters Run Deep
3. The Romans Make A Desert And Call It Piece
4. Atrophy Of The Heart
5. At The Forest's Edge
6. In Darkness I Sleep
7. Seasons Don't Fear The Reaper, We Can Be Like They Are.

When I first came across Totem Skin, I was taken aback by their crust infused screamo sound, as it didn’t really sound like anything else I’d heard. This band opened me up to so many other great Swedish bands, some of which I’ve featured on here. This LP got me equally excited when I first heard of it’s impending release and even though I’m a little late in reviewing it, I’ve been listening to it solidly over the past few months. 

Kargt Landskap is a loud opener and definitely signal of intent from Totem Skin. There’s a lot of cymbal use in it, but it’s balanced out by the melodic guitar and searing screams that flourish throughout the song. With the title track, the band takes a more instant approach. It seems a lot heavier and the riffs are genuinely huge. Their link toward emo comes in the form of the more atmospheric sections to their music, which breaks up the volume and sheer power of their music.
You’ll definitely feel that power during The Romans Make A Desert And Call It Peace. It’s another quick fire blast that's more on the crusty side. The polar opposites between all-out Totem Skin and quieter, more reserved Totem Skin are what makes Still Waters Run Deep special for me.

With Atrophy Of The Heart their sound takes a slightly gloomier turn but that’s not a bad thing. The drum beat that comes in after the initial guitar intro is such a glorious addition and you just know that as the song builds, it’s going to be both cathartic and exciting. It’s nearly eight-minutes long and sees Totem Skin hitting more creative buttons. The instruments are stripped back slightly during the mid-section of the song but burst back into life when they hit full flow. That brooding melody is still sitting in the mix too, with just enough space to breath alongside the feedback and distortion.

They change tack slightly with At The Forest’s Edge and seem to take a leaf out of punk’s book. The riffs have a melodic-hardcore tone too them. It’s good variation and sits well alongside their intensity during the song. They made a tour video for this song too, which is a must see if you haven’t already.
It’s followed by another short blast by the name In Darkness I Sleep. The low-end add some real heft to this song, especially during the brief, sludgy section. 

It’s a mere precursor though to closer Seasons Don’t Fear The Reaper, We Can Be Like They Are. The riffs are at their biggest here and the overall feeling is one of absolute euphoria. Euphoria because not only have you made it through but that you’ll be cleansed by this mammoth song. It’s filled with the dark atmosphere that courses through the record but also due it’s mainly instrumental nature, it gives strange relief. When the vocals do kick in though, it’s like a big release of emotion and frustration. It lifts you, which is a funny thing to say about music so heavy and so seemingly angry. Things settle down mid way through and the hardcore is replaced by a mournful guitar section and sample. The calmness is shattered before the end with one final blast of majestic noise. 

Here's the video for At The Forest's Edge - 




You can stream the entire LP via Totem Skin's bandcamp page here -



You can download it as a name-your-price download from the above page.

LP's can be bought from Totem Skin's at their gigs and also from Dog Knights Productions here - http://dogknightsproductions.bandcamp.com/album/dk048-totem-skin-still-waters-run-deep-12-lp

Totem Skin Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/totemskin
Dog Knights Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/dogknights

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