Up first is Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and their contributions are definitely interesting. While carrying a heavy doom output initially, “The Master and His Emissary” eventually carries itself more like a mainstream alternative metal track without losing the intensity. This is thanks largely to bassist/vocalist Jessica Ball’s clean, sometimes hypnotic singing that turns an otherwise burdening sound into something approachable in an early 2000’s Lacuna Coil manner as the additional drone effects creep in to pave the way to some traditional early Black Sabbath riffs to wrap the lengthy track up. But it’s “Eagduru” that is the most enchanting. Simple riff and drum patterns with a hint of an aquatic gloom matched with a far more innocent vocal range makes an otherwise depressing performance a sweet and innocent track through purgatory, leading you along to your final resting place with an angelic guide.
And then you have Slowmatics on the flip-side. “Ancient Architectures” tries to live up to the title with a booming presence, echoing vocals, and traces of egyptian influence. The thing that stands out is how this track sounds like if Strapping Young Lad had gone the doom route as far as speed was concerned. And then there’s the simple, but still beautiful piano piece “Silver Ships Into the Future”, offering up a brief reprieve that perfectly captures the snow swept landscapes outside your window [at least it did while looking out at the snowstorm happening as I type this review] to ease you into the burdening end game of “Masters Descent”. The thick guitar riffs and aforementioned vocal effect gives this one even more of an industrial tone without ever actually branching into that musical realm. Instead you are pulled into a nightmarish high of ritualistic rhythms and haziness.
Totem is, by far, one of the most surprising split releases one could come across if not familiar with the acts involved. Both offering up something incredibly unique to the psych/doom world that will immediately grab hold of you and refuse to let go. Between innocence and uncompromising hopelessness, both Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Slomatics put their best on display, and it all comes down to your personal tastes. Are you content with the norm for the previously mentioned styles, or are you craving something a little off the beaten path? If you fall into that second category, this is an offering you will want to check out.