White Suns – Totem (2014, The Flenser)


Jesus H Christ on a bike, what a fucking album. It’s not good practice just to say something is good – I get really fucking fed up with it whenever anybody else does it. And, it’s just not good practice. But, this album is mammoth. Totem makes a sound that conjures an image of someone trapped down a boarded-up, dried-up well: hollow and almost pitch-black but with the occasional ray of blaring, blinding white light casting through the cracks onto the poor bastard who has clawed their fingers to the knuckle trying to get out, who can now only screech and gnaw with his stumps.

Or, at least, that’s what it seems like to me. I could be wrong.

Noise guitars, vocals and drums is what’s on offer, but it’s not what you get, exactly. This is record is nihilistic at its very core.  It’s dark, dissonant, and doesn’t care, or maybe it just can’t care. The sound is one of atonalist feedback occasionally punctured by hectic, hateful, loud “songs”. Strangely sensitive relentless drums; occasionally howling yelling’s and occasionally alienated spoken word. Basically, the sound of intense screams piercing the sobbing of the person trapped down the well.

Some might call the noise soundscape-like, but I don’t think that, that is not it’s purpose. Its purpose seems more like to isolate the listener – you’re all alone on this trip, and this trip isn’t fun. Just you and the noise. What’s more, the monsters (songs?) that leap out of the darkness at you aren’t actually there – they’re figments of your imagination. But, perhaps that’s worse than them being real. These songs will scare the shit out of you and return to darkness before you know you’ve been bludgeoned. The ethereal noise they make is only the parts of your experience of the well when you’re awake.

But, there’s something absolutely compelling about it – you keep returning to it. The dark hole is a comfort, the monsters are your friends.

Really, the only apt response after listening to this record is to find yourself bleeding from your ears afterwards.

Rating: This is a nihilistic, noise rock based in despair. And I’ve probably over blown it, but this is nevertheless one hell of a record and easily one of the most stunning things this year. I’m saluting this one.




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