Having recently shared a stage at Camden’s Underworld for The Local Fuzz gig, it’s nice timing for this collaborative effort from Wales’ Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Ireland’s Slomatics. Both have have been hard at it and earned themselves solid reputations for heavy, atmospheric doom metal. Recorded at Skyhammer Studio with Conan’s Chris Fielding at the helm, “Totems” is unlikely to be anything short of super heavy.

MWWB are first up. The electronically trippy introduction to “The Master And His Emissary” has a Pink Floyd “On The Run” vibe that is brutally destroyed by thick, dissonant riffs that are punishingly heavy and slow. Eventually morphing into a more urgent, bludgeoning beast it seems this band have been able to push their own boundaries. Those ethereal vocals from Jessica Ball are on form and weave their way through the crushing, relentless sounds around them; there is a uniqueness about them where the vocals have a restrained prominence that lifts and gives light to what are sensationally weighty tones. Percussively, this is mighty and there’s a primal rawness that captures the live power of the band. This carries into “Eagduru”, with a dirty riff fading in after a pulsing introduction all backed by James Carrington’s warlike drums. There’s an almost cinematic quality and it’s hard not to be drawn to their entrancing charms. While only two tracks are on display there’s a sense of maturity to MWWB’s sound and a feeling that the band have continued to move forward since 2016’s well received full length, “Y Profwydd Dwyll”.

Formed in 2004 in Belfast, it’s time for Slomatics to take over from here starting with the devastating “Ancient Architects” which is seriously heavy. The gargantuan, bombastic riffs have a breadth and purity which is simply grand. A psychedelic edge keeps it all engaging before the hauntingly beautiful instrumental “Silver Ships Into The Future” with its’ echoed keys. The track proves to be the peaceful interlude bookended by two beasts, with “Masters Descent” being the final powerhouse. Dense, driving guitars with soaring vocals over the top, there’s real explorative momentum with space rock auras abounding. The band manage to take heavy chords and continue to work them until they become leviathan and hypnotise. MWWB’s Jessica Ball contributes additional vocals to take an already heady experience into new open realms.

Without a shadow of doubt, this collaboration works on many levels. Both bands have a complimentary take on the genre and the album has an irresistible ebb and flow. The stark, natural power and sense of boundlessness and unrestrained energy on record is perfectly captured in the album cover art. Highly recommended.

(8.5/10 Johnny Zed)