Totems of Stone" by TKTWA (To Keep The Wolves Away) (Single Review)
BY STEVE THIRIOT
"Totems of Stone" by TKTWA (To Keep The Wolves Away) stands as a mighty track in the realm of metal; that the band uniquely describes as post/metal/sludge/black/progressive/whatever-the-fuck genre. TKTWA, deeply rooted in the haunting vastness of the American Southwestern desert, presents a piece that is as enigmatic as it is ferocious, intertwining a myriad of sub-genre influences into a seamless and intoxicating blend.
From the outset, "Totems of Stone" establishes itself not merely as a song, but as a journey – a ceremonial plunge into the depths of oblivion. The opening riffs, infused with the barren, eerie spirit of the desert, set the stage for an experience that is both desolate and richly layered. The guitar work here is nothing short of masterful, weaving post-metal's atmospheric expansiveness with the gritty, raw energy of sludge and black metal.
The rhythm section of TKTWA deserves a special mention. The bass lines, often undulating like the heatwaves of their desert muse, provide a dense, almost tangible texture to the track. The drumming, simultaneously complex and visceral, acts as the heartbeat of this behemoth – driving the music forward with relentless power and intricate precision.
Vocally, "Totems of Stone" is Savage. The range of emotions conveyed is staggering, shifting seamlessly from guttural roars to hauntingly melodic passages. This vocal dynamism is not just impressive in its technicality, but in how it serves the song's narrative – a tale of confronting and embracing the void, of finding transformation in desolation.
The production quality of the track deserves its own special mention. Every element, from the thunderous lows to the piercing highs, is captured with crystalline clarity, yet retains a raw, unpolished edge that is essential to the band's aesthetic. The mix balances the dense layers of sound with a deftness that allows each component – whether it be a subtle ambient noise or a crushing riff – to shine without overshadowing the others.
In its structure, "Totems of Stone" defies conventional songwriting, an attribute that firmly places TKTWA in the vanguard of progressive metal. The song's progression feels organic, almost narrative in nature, guiding the listener through a spectrum of sonic landscapes. There are moments of introspective calm, passages of soaring majesty, and segments of unbridled brutality, all coalescing into a cohesive whole.
"Totems of Stone" is not just a standout track by TKTWA it is a landmark in the broader landscape of metal music. It pays homage to its varied influences while carving out a unique niche that is distinctly its own. For those willing to embark on this aural odyssey, the rewards are profound – a testament to the transformative power of music and a beacon in the often derivative world of heavy metal.