Review: Totenmesse “To” [Pagan Records]

Review: Totenmesse “To” [Pagan Records]

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Poland has spawned some of the most popular bands extreme music has to offer. As far as Black Metal goes, Poland really is a top contender country. Seemingly out of nowhere, Pagan Records are hitting us with Totenmesse and their debut album To out on 2nd of November.

I’ll call it like I hear it straight away – Totenmesse (which means requiem) are going to stand shoulder to shoulder with Mgła, Untervoid, Outre and Kriegsmaschine in music collections everywhere, easily. If you are a fan of any of the above, you will appreciate what Totenmesse are aiming for. Please listen to this whilst you read…

To is an 8 track album running at 42 minutes, substantial enough for a debut in every way. ‘Pusty Dzwon’ starts out the album slow, methodical and meaningful, very doom laden, plodding towards passages of chant like vocals and onto abrasively sharp black metal riffs. Harsh and rasping vocals are the main type here but chanting and pure anguished sighing over an ugly riff that picks up speed and increases the heavy. It all leads into blast beat drums and an alien like interference, we even have a smudging of clean vocals to boot. What a trip – and that’s what this album is like. To is a wild trip into Blackend Death metal.

‘Istne Gowne Dusza Cuchnie’ takes things up several notches, speed wise. Storming drums start us out and when a certain guitar riff harmonizes with dark beauty I promise that you’ll be smiling and thinking – this is Poland. I can tell this is Polish music…

The album was recorded at Roslyn Studio whilst mixing and mastering was taken care of by Haldor Grunberg of Satanic Audio (Behemoth and Sunnata). Totenmesse themselves consist of Stawrogin handling the vocals and bloody good he is too. Rzulty and Void on the guitars, clearly accomplished and inventive musicians. Bartollo pounds his bass from planet Mars and backs up Priest on his monstrous drum kit. All of them clearly accomplished and captured here in To perfectly.

Just like the musicianship, the flow of the album is outstanding. Variation within and between the tracks is on the edge of perfect. Hey, We even have ‘20th Century Schizoid’ a well-played cover of King Crimson.

Later on in the album we have ‘Kaiser Tot’ and the track simply hums with attitude and the speed reminding me of angry hornets (or maybe Aosoth). Then into something very interesting, sharp and dissonant guitar licks remind me of Black Metal at its finest (AKA DsO) – now layer male choir vocals over and they’re onto another winner for sure.

This is as dark as it comes, in places it is downright alien like. If they were going for creepy atmosphere they managed it. If they were looking to showcase their uniqueness, they did it… I’ll end on honesty like I started – before I listen to this, I knew that if it was Polish Black Metal, I was in for a treat. Totenmesse did not disappoint. There we have it folks – Totenmesse are for real in this game and if you’re a Black Metal fan, head to Facebook to check them out. You’d also do well to pick up their album from Pagan Records.

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