Bursting on to the scene with all the fresh-faced vigour and vim of a Trivium a year ago, Totalisti are a slightly more mature but considerably softer outfit, whose debut Slave To None turns out to be more than just a little bland.
Opener Sick Of It All has a deceptively promising start with a pattern of kick-ass guitar riffs. Unfortunately, it quickly melts into alt-rock mediocrity, something that continues for a further 40 minutes.
The mildly crunchy riff of Sick Of It All may be attention-grabbing but the effect is lost by a poorly produced, ‘trying hard to be menacing’ vocal that is far too Godsmack for comfort. Still, despite some totally amateur flanger effects on the guitars and a brief but extremely disturbing emo chord breakdown, Sick Of It All’s attempt at a radio metal chorus is not a complete failure.
Next up, the solid pace of Fallen begins and continues for almost a minute as an extremely good tribute to Soil at their best, but unfortunately hits way too weedy a chorus to be belong on the metal section of my record shelf.
The rawness of the pre-chorus in ETA is a textbook lesson in exactly how to record a cool vocal take. Sadly, it is one that the band decided to forgo far too often, judging by the many wet and presence-lacking cuts on the rest of Slave To None.
Severed Ties would like to emulate Alice In Chains in their Dirt era and – unsurprisingly – fails, while Dirty flirts briefly with the animalistic barks of Disturbed‘s David Draiman but predictably plummets to yet another painfully soggy chorus.
Shameless is exactly that – by not trying to disguise itself as a neck-breaking metal number, it sits much more happily in the rock camp, pitched somewhere in the foothills of Mount Nickelback, but still requiring a serious amount of structural repair before it will help to shift units. Album-closer House Of Mirrors is a welcome surprise, however, manifesting as an off-kilter little number that bites with considerably more ferocity than the majority of its peers.
While I trust Totalisti didn’t begin this album with the controls set for the heart of Mediocrity City, said abode is most certainly where they have crash-landed. However, with a more explicit decision as to whether they are aiming for rock or metal circles, coupled with some beefier production and tighter material, they could still claw themselves back to a brighter future.