As I write this, spring is upon us. Hurtling ever closer to the unforgiving fires of summer, Profound Lore Records is set to unleash “Lament”, the debut LP from the frostbitten, blackened Hardcore mob Totaled. Content with beckoning oblivion as opposed to thaw, this is an unforgiving and harrowing statement of intent cold enough to delay the seasons. It manages to sit comfortably in the vast chasm between labelmates Evoken and Pissgrave, merging the elegiac thoughtfulness of the former with the dense and sadistic blasts of the latter. Their caustic take on Crust, Blackened Death, and Metallic Hardcore stretches far beyond genre signifiers. Having formed inonly 2017, they’ve somehow emerged with sound so fully formed and downright intimidating. More impressive is that they’ve somehow done it on their first attempt. Shock and awe aside, it belies a band intent on penning fully fledged scorched Earth treatises for years to come.
“Lament” is, first and foremost, an unforgiving and muscular listen. It manages to blend Japanese minded Swedish D-Beat with first wave Scandi BM without bending to the signposts of either style. The drums absolutely bludgeon. At once surgical and reckless, double bass drums fall like mortar while tidal washes of putrid guitars decimate what’s left of their sonic tapestry. Bass is, as expected, expertly played and handled, finding it’s pocket perfectly beneath the maelstrom. There are, unexpectedly, sublime moments wedged in between the impossibly dense music. Requiring multiple daring listens, Totaled reveal more as you willingly acquiesce. Gorgeous is, in this instance, a debatable word. Within the necrophobic Trojan Horse that is Totaled, they sneak in flashes of fleeting beauty before setting it all ablaze, their arsenal of arrows blotting out the sun. Ultimately, though, this album will choke the life from you one song at a time. Bookended with the melancholic blasts “Deplete” and “Bereft” it will certainly leave you with nothing. Far from acaloric, the meat on its’ bones is a sinewy mass of muscle. Though I’m loathe to call it a single (let’s call them escapees), “Transience” is a creative pummeling that conjures images of Portal, were they a Discharge cover band.
Label: Profound Lore
As a whole, “Lament” is a fortress… unknowable, impenetrable, and imposing. Alas, our denied access is perhaps a mercy, for inside their kingdom is nothing more than a rotting, bubonic funeral pyre. Sitting comfortably in the world of Hexis or Bastard Feast, there’s an added dimension of extremity that recalls the interstellar histrionics of Wormed. It’s straightforward tendencies and beefed up sonics keep it from devolving into the convoluted, “swarm of bees” territory that many blackened brethren find themselves venturing into. Additionally, the vocal attack is absolutely feral and, though not exactly up front, also avoids the cryptkeeper. Opting instead for a punishing and authoritative Hardcore presence, Totaled seem to make all the right moves, albeit on the left hand path. In an album that’s essentially a horrifying octet of depravity, highlights include “Desolate” and “Hypnosis.” It’s the consistent bludgeon as the album progresses that benefit most from lightning flashes of nuance, the minute moments between giving the feel of gasping for air as you’re forcibly drowned. This is not an album for the spirited but a carrion call for the diseased of spirit. Lay at its’ feet while it grinds bones. Much like death itself, “Lament” leaves not prisoners but victims. Again, it’s the DIY Crust-Punk/hXc backbone that keeps the affair from ever feeling remotely performative, the result the difference between costume jewelry and alchemical gold.
Much like the rich tapestry of the music, the impossibly intricate cover art by one Andrew Tremblay is the perfect fit. There’s an inimitable and hypnotic magnetism to the elaborate line work. As if giving yourself over to the grotesquerie, looking away seems impossible. There are aspects to it that are both austere and ornate, in that it’s lush details are also reduced to the limited palette of blacks, grey, and the spaces between. Fittingly, it calls to mind both the early 90’s gore-mongers of the Florida DM scene and the scorched Earth aesthetics of post-Amebix D-Beat.
Though it’d likely require little more than a cursory search, I’m not sure I want to know who, what, or where Totaled is. I’ve come to love “Lament” in the way I love storms, fevers dreams, and the delayed promises of death itself… that after the embrace it’ll mercifully end. 37 essential minutes of suffocation.