posted on 3/2005 By:
Finnish death metal alchemists Total Devastation have returned with Reclusion, the follow up to their debut album, 2003’s Roadmap of Pain. The band, which shares members with Omnium Gatherum and Kaihoro, seems to have mutated somewhat, although the main ingredients of death metal and industrial remain at the heart of their sound. On Roadmap of Pain, the combination of the two was more seamless, as it was a traditional gut punch of death metal with long and even strokes of industrial elements interwoven consistently throughout the songs. It was aggressive but still somewhat controlled industrial death metal. Reclusion is something entirely more volcanic, demonstrating Total Devastation has ratcheted up the aggressiveness factor considerably. Interestingly, they have done so by moving both closer to and further from traditional death metal.
Total Devastation’s influences—the death metal of Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Entombed, and Carcass, and the industrialists Nine Inch Nails, Laibach, Ministry, and Strapping Young Lad, are still observable, but are applied in various amalgamations. For starters, Reclusion has less consistent industrial underpinnings. Rather than letting programming and samples share the stage with the death metal assault by serving as a backbone to the arrangements, this time out the band has used them as accents to create flashes of ambience. Sometimes they are enduring, but often are here one moment and gone the next, and the result is something like a swirling cyclone of skulls on which bits of broken squares of strobe light were affixed intermittently. This definitely gives Total Devastation a more explosive style, but the band has also mixed in other nontraditional riffing and elements that death metal purists may find challenging. Some are from other metal styles, and some of it is the way programming and samples are inconsistently introduced, but at times Reclusion sounds too many iterations away from traditional death metal. Not that there is anything wrong with a nontraditional sound, but sometimes these elements end up being confounding and less effective. These moments are usually fleeting, such as the intro to “Ground Zero” and portions of “They Stand on 3”. However, some of these inclusions are more effective, and the open, general rock and roll soloing of Harri Pikka and Saku Hakuli are a welcome variation. Of course, there are plenty of full on devastating headbangers, like the chugging and boisterous “Divine” and the furious “Full Circle”. “Well of the Dead” is another strong track, beginning with an acoustic intro that flows into some electronics, before lurching forward into a massive, loping riff. The band does well to keep the vocals firmly rooted in death metal, and Jaako Heinonen’s growls are more present and sound less regulated than on the last album. The production is strong and serves the band’s tight sound well. The limited edition of the album adds a cover of Autopsy’s “In the Grip of Winter” and a video for the title track.
Reclusion isn’t a massive departure for Total Devastation, but it is different enough from Roadmap of Pain that it is likely that listeners who are nuts for one may wish that the other was more similar. Still, the quality of both albums is solid, and fans of modern industrial death metal should definitely take note.
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