Totengott morbidly worship at altar of Celtic Frost on filthy, mean debut opus ‘Doppelgänger’

Imitation … sincerest form of flattery … we’ve all heard that one before. I guess there is some truth to it. You’re not going to try to copy the DNA of something you find unworthy, because what would be the point? So, if you’re trying to mirror something, it must be due to your admiration for the source.

That’s very much to point to the existence of Totengott, a Spanish trio that formed over their worship of everything in the Celtic Frost/Triptykon void. The band started as a CF cover band, and they’re very much credited with inspiring the Totengott’s sound, but there definitely is a lot of Triptykon sludge that oozed into the gears as well. Eventually, the band—guitarist/vocalist Chou Saavedra, bassist Nacho Void, and drummer Jose Mora—started writing their own songs, and the results can be heard on their debut 3-track, 43-minute album “Doppelgänger” that could not have been more appropriately named. Their bio materials drop other bands whose work they admire, such as Pink Floyd, Conan, and Voivod, but make no mistake: This record is pure, unabashed CF/Triptykon worship virtually from the first note to the last. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as they do the sound very well. But I can see listeners wondering if they’re not better off going with the source material in the first place. There is merit to that thought, as I had those feelings quite a bit absorbing this one. But I don’t want to discredit their effort, which is there.

“Delusion of Negation” starts the record with doom horns like out of an old black-and-white movie and an angelic chorus before the door is kicked down. The track clubs slowly, with Saavedra’s throaty howls dishing out punishment and the guitars taking on that muddy Tom Warrior tone. The track is a thrasher, with a horrifying terror being described, along with shouts of, “I am in hell!” before everything comes to a mashing finish. “Satan Beside Me” is the most indicative of their Warrior discipleship, right down to Saavedra’s lyric style and vocal phrasing. The track reminds me a lot of “Os Abysmi vel Daath” from “Monotheist” (that record also houses the song from which the band took its name) in its structure, so much so that I went and listened to that song right after this 14:04 epic was through. The middle section of the song goes into some vast experimentation, as they operate within the same area of darkness, but more toward the outer edges, before they return to the same structure of the first few minutes. “You are no one to me!” Saavedra howls as the song powers down.

The title cut finishes the album, and it’s a 21:31 monster that pulverizes you during its mammoth run. Noise erupts, as mournful synth follows, and the track scrapes along as a funeral doom-style pace for the bulk of this. This one feels like it digs back into earlier Celtic Frost for influences, as the pain and suffering is palpable. Later on in the song, the whole thing is torn apart as the tempo destroys, and the band ups the intensity of their game. “I’ll see you in hell!” Saavedra vows, almost as if he’s reporting from that very place, right before eerie chants and enveloping darkness take hold. The track begins to spit fire again after that stretch of haze, as the band sound intent on taking off heads. For a period over the final few minutes, Tottengott rise above their influences and inject something a little different into the mix, especially Saavedra’s wild shrieks, before rounding back their normal sound as the record comes to a smearing end.

It will be interesting to hear how people react to Tottengott and their debut opus “Doppelgänger.” On one hand, it’s a very solid act of tribute to Celtic Frost and its progeny, and the music here is quite good. On the other, there are plenty of CF and Triptykon records out there for public consumption, that this band could get overlooked. It would be cool if, going forward, they retain their fandom in their hearts and music but also try to weave more of their own personality into their songs.

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