Release DetailsLABEL Firebox Records
RELEASED ON 9/25/2006
posted on 10/2006 By:
Some bands pop out fully baked from the get go--often with their first record having been battle tested in band practice after band practice for years beforehand--and some take awhile to find their sound. Total Devastation is the latter. After their industrial/Nine Inch Nails tinged death metal debut which, while very well played, sounded a bit too gimmicky and their move to a slower, more meaty death metal era Entombed/less synth focused sound on their second disc, they’ve managed continue this evolution on Wreck but taken it to a whole new level.
With Wreck they’ve taken the guitar sound even farther into ultra-thick, over saturated Carnage/Entombed territory but have expanded on the unpredictable, off tempo rhythms that they first started flirting with on Reclusion. So if you can picture sludgy, dripping-with-blood raw meat guitars, similar to Entombed’s Uprising, but used in a more open ended, less linear fashion, similar to the mighty Mastodon, th an you start to get where these guys are coming from. This gives Wreck a very death & roll vibe, especially with the clutch of groove based death metal riffs spread throughout, but with a big nod to jam band Mastodon style riffing with a lot of separate, distinct hot lick riffs drawn out between single, punctuated bass drum kicks. In fact, besides the guitar tone and retro death metal foundation, Mastodon is probably the biggest discernable influence in the songwriting.
They stick to this death & roll formula more or less for the entire record with some tracks having a more straight death metal sound, some having a slower, darker bent to them and some just plain death & roll rockers with Carcass Swansong era grooves sprinkled throughout with the occasional blast beat or straight chugfest. That they keep a healthy dose of aggressive death metal ever present tips the scales more in favor of the death versus roll portion and will keep fans of more extreme metal happier than if they were listening to a watered down Mastodon clone.
For those synthophobes like me you’ll be happy to know the keyboards are much more subdued this album, playing more of a support role as background layering than an upfront, separate instrument as on Roadmap To Pain. It’s a lot like Bleeding Through, where they started off with keyboards so they’re sticking with it even though the music would be fine, if not better, without them. That’s really the only knock against this album but with the direction they’re going it will probably be gone in an album or two.
While the music presented here is nowhere near as innovative or breathtaking as Mastodon, there’s a lot to like here. From the non-traditional songwriting/tempos to the crushing vintage death metal sound, to the lack of any melodeath elements, to the ample helpings of groove based death & roll, Total Devastation has put together an accomplished blend of retro flavored death & roll and modern, technically complex songwriting. Still, for all their talent, they sometimes come off as a poor man’s death metal version of Mastodon. The riffs are not as intricate and the drumming is not even in the same league. Of course Mastodon is at the top of the musical ability food chain so you can just about say the same thing of any band. Nonetheless, with Wreck, Total Devastation has compellingly answered the question to what a less High On Fire/more Entombed/late Carcass style version of Mastodon would probably sound like. If nothing else they’ve managed to create something that has both clear influences (and what good ones they are!) and is clearly unique at the same time. So if you’ve passed on these guys in the past due to their more industrial death metal roots maybe it’s time to give them another look.
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