Blackened hardcore smashers Totaled realize life is a pisshole, reveal that on horrific ‘Lament’

Nick Hancock

For many people, life doesn’t feel very good. It’s a constant struggle to get from sun up to sundown, and every step taken is like a fist right to the face. Depression and anxiety, two topics we seem to talk about at least once a week, are very real factors, plus there are other things that make living something that can feel like a cruel joke even on the best days.

Blackened hardcore bruisers Totaled have that idea nailed on their debut album “Lament,” an eight-track, 37-minute foray into confronting the end and bathing in the hell that is birth-life-death process we all face. So, yeah, this isn’t really party music, unless that bash is going to end in one’s own bloodshed. I don’t say these words with tongue implanted in cheek. We cover a wide array of dark, harrowing music on the regular, but there aren’t many times we encounter something this black and depressing that we need a break from the music after as single listen. Um, this album is good. I hope it isn’t taken that it isn’t, because it’s a goddamn fire-breather. But it hurts to endure, just like the life that’s detailed within this thing, which means they’ve achieved their goal with flying fucking colors. Normally this is the part where we introduce you to the members, but Totaled have chosen to remain anonymous, therefore we have just the music on which to focus. That’s the point anyway, isn’t it?

“Deplete” starts the record, a quick intro cut that combines noise and lonely acoustics before moving into “As Below” that explodes to life with black metal riffing and D-beat destruction. The growls smother while the guitars bask in morbid glory, rubbing your face in the pain. Wild howls erupt as the music plays tricks and delivers gut punches, then the guitars go off, the pace heats up, and everything ends in a smoking pile. “Eclipsed” ignites as the bass trudges in mud, and a speedy fury arrives to spit shrapnel. The drums maul while a speaking sample brings chilling fear, and a dark cloud hangs overhead while a tempered mid-section soaks in noise. Soloing rips into the picture, mixing with toxic sounds before coming to a stinging end. “Transience” rumbles open before launching itself into hardcore fury that gets melted in a blast furnace of power. Bass cuts through that while the track comes to a storming finish.

“Hypnosis” has riffs rounding up dangerous winds while the track begins hammering, and the growls deliver a nasty, unforgiving attitude. The pace is beastly, though it has its mesmerizing stretches, and screams and punishment combine to do a number on your sanity. A killer metallic solo torches flesh, sending heat and madness before retreating back to hell. “Desolate” starts with clean guitars before the body is opened fully, and the ground beneath it quakes with horror. Gruff growls combine with a massive tempo, spitting teeth and bleeding before the track gets thrashy and ends on a throbbing note. “Ominous” is a quick interlude with haunting guitar work and desolation, setting the stage for finale “Bereft” that starts with a tidal wave of emotion. The drums destroy while the growls pepper the body, as the sonic assault tears into dark soloing that instills fear. A path of sorrow is beaten as things calm down for a stretch, allowing the anxiety to marinate. Out of that, the pace kicks up again, the guitars aim to draw tears, and the track keeps burning until it runs out of fuel.

The epitome of hell and blackness penetrate every corner of “Lament,” as Totaled put every ounce of their pain and misery into these explosive eight songs. This record sounds like the frustrations and agonies of life being force-fed into a grinder and shat out the other end a mutilated, bloody pile. This is fury and panic mixed into the hellish meeting of black metal and hardcore, a record that hurts almost as much as actually being a person every day.

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