Album Review: “Totality” by Lotus Effect
Local Texas band Lotus Effect reached out to me on Twitter a few months ago, and I finally found the time to check out the album they sent to me to review on my blog. Since it’s taken me a while to start this review I have decided to do a song by song break down like one of my old school blog reviews. What’s written below is my live reaction to hearing each song for the first time.
1. “God Particle”- An interesting intro that grabs your attention with thought evoking lyrics about God and scripture. This song uses spoken words for the vocals, starts off mellow with guitars on reverb and then stops into a synth build up, then climaxes into a progressive classical piece reminiscent of an old church chorale from the Baroque era (just dark, not abstract). This piece strikes as a daring way to open an album, and doesn’t disappoint. My interest is garnished, and I look forward to the next song that it flawlessly transitions into.
2. “Window Panes”- This song kicks up as the intro fades a more recognizable alternative metal opening that builds into a heavy metal moshing groove. The singer kicks in at 30 seconds, demonstrating how well he can go from singing to shrieking like Rob Halford from Judas Priest. The instrumentation sounds like modern metal, but also has some more alternative influences. This piece is heavy in the same way that Tool’s “10,000 Days” album was heavy in that it makes you want to mosh, but also makes your jaw drop at all the intricacies thrown in. Overall, this six minute song keeps you on your toes and does not let you down.
3. “Hangman”- This piece reminds me stylistically of Iron Maiden meeting bands like Breaking Benjamin and 30 Seconds to Mars in that it progresses on a steady rhythm, and has emotion filled vocals that tell the tale of man forsaken by society and that he will miss his lover. This piece comes off sounding slower in tempo than the previous two songs, but still comes off as pretty strong to me in how the vocals of a story of the forsaken man against the will of an executioner. Not my favorite song, but not the worst thus far.
4. “Try Harder”- This song stands apart from the others as starting off mellow and quickly becomes more dramatic as the song progresses towards the chorus. The song tells of a man who can’t forgive his ex-lover who has wronged him in a deep way. The piece speeds up and slows down in certain parts continuously to build and resolve tension, and the singer’s screaming is especially note worthy in this song.
5. “Totality”- The lead single and name sake of the album displays the band in full form, with hard hitting guitar riffs and riffs that build up into a climatic chorus, an experimental break down with a synthesizer solo, and a dramatic closing in the song where everything slows down. This is my favorite track off of the album so far because this song is just so epic, I love the outro and how this song progresses into something so different then you will hear in a lot of other metal today.
6. “Pumapunku”- In an intro that makes me think of the old west meeting prog rock, this is the most groovy piece on the album thus far and proves to be an epic instrumental to bridge the first half of the album to the second. This piece makes me want to kick ass inside of a mosh pit, but also to contemplate the mysteries of life. A short, but incredibly sweet instrumental.
7. “Coronium”- This piece stands out as a more down tempo and low key feel, but still retains it’s heavy sound when the distorted guitars kicks in. The most notable thing for me in this song is how the bass guitar makes a counter melody alongside the vocals rather than the guitars. I’ll admit that this particular song’s my least favorite on the track so far, but that’s not to say it’s an awful song. This song does grab my attention, and I can tell the band put their hearts into it, I’m just not a fan of how the verses sound with how syncopated every instrument sounds (that they’re off beat rhythmically vs the other songs).
8. “Saviour”- This next song sets itself apart from the previous seven as being the most straightforward thrash metal inspired piece, and also breaks the feeling on musical continuity. With how the first half of the song chugs along like a slow but certain freight train, while the second half sounds reminiscent of Tool’s album “10,000 Days”. While I didn’t like what “Coronium” was going for, this song astounds me with how well Lotus Effect is combining two different musical styles so seamlessly. This song is definitely the game changer in the feel of the whole album, another solid track.
9. “Promise”- Another different piece, this song is more of an alternative rock song that sounds heavy and exciting, but doesn’t strike me as an aggressive song (think Coheed and Cambria). This song is actually very down key through out the whole thing, and makes me think of a man singing to his lover about his struggles to be on this earth. I love this song for the story the lyrics tell, even if it is one of the longest pieces on the album.
10. “Cutting”- This piece opens on a piano playing that sounds incredibly reminiscent of the opening of the Italian Aria “Sebben, Crudele” by Antonio Caldara’s, then fades into a separate fast riff song that is more in the style of speed metal. Another six minute song, this one is like several pieces put together as a master medley of strong and heart filled guitar playing. Compilation style songs aren’t always my thing, but Lotus Effect pulls things off well with how this piece refers back to the main themes towards the end of the song. The piano at the outro sounds gorgeous, it’s truly to die for.
11. “Supernova”- The longest piece on the album at eight minutes and 52 seconds, and it opens just like how “God Particle” does with a dramatic speech and a very drawn out synthesizer interlude that reminds me of something from one of the English dubs of Dragon Ball Z followed by thirty seconds of silence (John Cage, is that you?) After the silence representing the end of days clears, we hear a very expressive western guitar playing with the singer closing out the album in style with harmonies and a violin in the background singing about how his love is an angel. This song is the first song I’ve ever had to say where I grew bored with the first half, but loved the second half dearly. Kudos to to Lotus Effect for closing out an album this progressive in such a traditional method.
Each member of the band has a solid grasp of their instrument, but I feel like the majority of the focus goes to the vocals performed by Dre Giles for how amazing he can hit those high notes and still bust out some epic screams. I’m fond of the guitar work by Ricki Marquez, the drumming by Richie Caldwell is perfect with the style, and I like how independent of a role the bass played by Vincent Fink and how it holds it’s own melodies at times vs just being purely a support instrument. Of course, being a bassist myself I’m always going to be a bit biased towards the bass guitar.
I should hand it to these guys, this has been an epic experience to review this great progressive and powerful album that has each song flow seamlessly to the next. I don’t like every single song the same, but I fail to hate any of the songs on this album. It’s a great experience to listen to the album way through, and I can only wonder why these guys haven’t gotten more press than they already have. I rate this album a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommended this album for listeners of alternative and heavy metal music.
You can help me support more local musicians by having them contact me to review their stuff, I’ll gladly take a listen in exchange for blog shares. I’m happy Lotus Effect sought me out, and I hope it’s the first of many bands to do the same.