Extreme metal encompassing all of it shades has become increasingly more accessible, let’s face it. Some love it, thus label it as progress while others hate its guts since the roots are inevitably being washed away by the day. Even though the latter is for a fact, there will always be musicians who will relate to the golden dawn in creative manners that will bring the modern and traditional sound together.
With the ever growing number of challenges to compete for attention, bands like Totalitarian emerge out of nowhere and unleash a titanic debut album whose essence reeks of suffocating death and misery. Reaching the highest peaks of extremity, this CD falls under a category on its own and with it come two ends; you will either love it madly or despise it for eternity.
The Art of Divine Tragedy
Totalitarian derives from Italy and ever since this act was born, it manifested itself in a shroud of deep mystery. As if this was a statement on its own that makes you focus on the vital matters only, which in this case is “De Arte Tragoediae Divinae” – the band’s debut full-length. No official lineup has ever been announced nor any vague associations with other Italian bands, so this entity speaks through their firstborn only and the message is outright macabre. It’s not for the fact that in its rotten core, this is an audial exemplification of metal extremism but a reflection of human corruption spread like cancer in authority.
“De Arte Tragoediae Divinae” steers away with the overly populated occult thematics and takes a different turn in portraying extreme hatred. History-driven – a bleak storyline aimed at a prominent figure from the religious world in the WW II era and beyond whose name is Alois Hudal. He was an Austrian Bishop and an avid sympathizer to Nazi beliefs who also was an adamant connection to freedom for war criminals. Bishop Alois took part in establishing ratlines that aided high ranking officers and political representatives in getting away with their crimes against humanity. With his influence in the Austrian-Catholic Church and Austrian-German congregation, he was a significant yet shady player that inspired Totalitarian in their first album.
The narrative on its own is quite expansive and subjected to plenty of debates, however Totalitarian did extract the essential terror out of it and the outcome is quite disturbing. Before going any further, let’s have a glance at the track list. “De Arte Tragoediae Divinae” consists of 5 lengthy songs that sum up over 56 minutes play time. Having spent a significant amount of time looping the album over and over again, I realized that it could be seriously misunderstood and highly underestimated due to its traits. This leads me to why some might hate its guts.
Totalitarian have borrowed primarily black and death metal elements except for the technical aspect of the latter genre. Each of the songs are structured in way that offer no major twists and repetitiveness takes a huge chunk, which could be a turn off factor in the first session. Regardless, this way of song writing was intentional and its purpose is to prolong the claustrophobic darkness that slowly carves its way into the listener’s psyche.
My veins are filled with the blood you have spilled
Very much like the everlasting pain and hatred of the dead, the excruciating brutality of “De Arte Tragoediae Divinae” persists from start to finish. Forget about peaceful, calming and relaxing interludes whatsoever. The commanding bearing of this album is always there and with it follows the eerie sounds of mass destruction. With the thick bass lines, militant drumming and deafening riffs uplifting the dissonance of the vocals, it all comes together in a solidified shape of spite.
Having the instruments down-tuned captures ideally a landscape where life has long been absent and only the bitter memories of the forgotten are scattered in the ashes. It’s engulfing, outright crushing and oppressive to listen to. This full-length successfully illustrates all the distress encompassing the given topic and despite its nerve-racking disposition, I appreciated it wholeheartedly.
Production in its general sense has been managed and delivered in a decent fashion. The cover art accurately portrays the horror and utter desolation springing from the entire track list. As mentioned above, the song writing does not rely on diversity and that is a very risky decision for it dramatically narrows down the potential audience that may enjoy this record. Instead, Totalitarian have chosen to go with expansive yet recurring riff and drum lines coated by tormenting ambience throughout its complete lifespan. Although, it’s purpose is meant to inject you with psychological distress in extreme proportions, it could also go totally the opposed; bore you in less than 30 minutes.
What I am going for with the latter statement is that the fun factor also depends on your preferences. This CD is made for a very specific fanbase that enjoys the thrilling experience of psychological terror in its primal state. Packed with a refined sound production, it transforms into a totally mindfucking ride.
“De Arte Tragoediae Divinae” demands your caution and patience in the first place. It is certainly not your everyday choice to load your player with, given its beyond irksome setting. While I find it to be decently executed, I think it might be tiresome to listen to multiple times, though. That is due to the lack of depth in the song writing department, making it hard to find any progression down the track list. Still, this is a well crafted debut as a whole, whose malignance will take you back in the darkest hours of human existence.
Special regards to Lavadome Productions and Barren Void Records for providing a physical copy. Released in 30 April 2017.