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(Ordo Decimus Peccatum Productions)

I should clarify before beginning this review that I spend relatively little time wallowing in that most emo of all Metal sub-genres, Suicidal Black Metal. Once in a while, however, I do find myself in the mood for it, and when it is performed effectively, it can produce profound results. Initially, I expected to be completely put-off by TOTALSELFHATRED's self-titled debut full length, but I was surprised that I found little that was completely distasteful about this album. They clearly went to great lengths to craft dense, textured and melodious songs that evoke an air of loneliness and solitude. This, I assume, is generally the point of Suicidal Black Metal. The tracks on this album are elaborately layered with multiple guitars and tastefully placed keyboard tracks that establish the atmospheric effect that TOTALSELFHATRED are clearly attempting to attain. Heavy usage of reverb and delay and the juxtaposition of clean guitars and against a backdrop of distorted ones adds to the washed out sound that pervades this recording. Unexpectedly, TOTALSELFHATRED often deviate into more aggressive passages that serve to break up the potential monotony of the album. I am not sure, however, that these passages are actually effective for this purpose as they sometimes distract from rather than enhance the effect of the songs such as on 'Spirituelles Equilibrium'. Still, the tendency toward incorporating more extreme elements is interesting. As with so much Suicidal Black Metal, however, the vocals delve far too frequently into the realm of the melodramatic. Although trying to intone the darkest and most desperate of feelings, the result is sometimes laughable. TOTALSELFHATRED do little to avoid this pitfall. The vocals do nothing to enhance the effect of the album and sometimes get in the way of the more interesting instrumental portions. Also, in addition to the anguished and self-loathing screams delivered on this album, TOTALSELFHATRED also intersperse a great deal of cleanly sung vocals which detract even more from the value of the recording. Ultimately, this album, while it has its share of compelling moments, seems to lack much that distinguishes it from a number of other unoffensive, but inevitably mediocre albums and those elements that initially seem novel are generally uninteresting and also unwelcome.

Jason Campbell

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