Out September 16th
Why the hell have I not heard of the band Mals Totem before? Probably because EP is the first release from this Boston five piece and as of yet they haven’t played many gigs (if any) outside of the states & I rarely travel to Massachusetts.
But this will change very soon, I imagine, as this EP is one of the best initial release I’ve heard since … well … ever. It’s hard for a band who wish to push boundaries and attempt to seemingly merge genres because the end result usually comes across as an egotistical record drowning in its own cocky arrogance or, as is usually the case, it just plain sucks. Mals Totem is an exception to this, however, as they blend various styles with both great success and a distinct lack of entitlement. The band are insanely talented and even though they are clearly confident in their sound it doesn’t cross the line into an Axl Rose attitude of utter pretension.
Musically it’s very hard to describe in brief but to use a simple comparison it sounds like the bastard child of Biffy Clyro, Coheed and Cambria and Alien Ant Farm, only knocked up a notch or seven. It’s not quite as whacked up on tabs of LSD as The Mars Volta but there are many similarities, though the Mals boys put this across in a slightly more pop-oriented format…meaning listening to the entire record doesn’t give me panic attacks like the Volta does.
What really stands out in this record is the vocals of Dave Vives, who is the closest thing I can find to a phoenix-esque resurrection of the incredible techniques of the late Jeff Buckley. Vives seemingly plays with scales as if they were cheap toy soldiers, hitting notes so ridiculously high that just listening makes my testicles tighten and begin to retreat back into my body. Just listen to third track, ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ to hear exactly what I mean.
If this review just sounds like a whole load of arse-licking, you’d be right. My tongue is quite firmly in the rectum of this band. But it’s well deserved. These days it’s so rare for a band to have some real guts, to be doing something unique, actually doing it well, and not just churning out another dull six songs that sounds like all the other “in” shit that’s floating about the airwaves. The band may be somewhat unknown at the time of writing this, but I doubt that will last very long at all.
I’ve been pondering on a cute way to describe Mals Totem and here’s what I’ve come up with:
“The Mals Totem sound resembles a man trying to fuck a rampaging wildebeest. It’s an intense struggle that should only be done with a 100% conviction and an intense amount of energy. You don’t half-arse trying to mount a wildebeest for fear of disembowelment, just as there’s nothing half-arsed about this band.”
The Mals Totem EP will be released September 16th but fans can sign up to the mailing list until then via their website. Two of the records tracks are available on their bandcamp and the band can be ‘liked’ on their Facebook and followed on Twitter.
All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.