Slave To None
Produced by Scott Rockenfield
Totalisti is a Hard Rock band from Enumclaw, Washington. "They are a touring band with a charismatic show that reveals their flare for life.
They sweat, they scream, they harmonize, they whisper, and they pour it all into their instruments. This is definately a record in which you
must listen to more than once to catch everything. It has depth, and emotion, and critical points that a sharp ear will hear, and an intent mind
Produced by Scott Rockenfield from Queensryche.
Check out an early mix of "Blind" on our MP3 Sampler.
Watch and Download the Video to "Sick Of It All"
Mark Stockwell – guitar and vocals
Ben Spong – guitar
Tom Taitano – drums
and backup vocals
Eric Bagby – bass and backup vocals.
First off, it’s Toe-ta-list-EYE, with the accent on the all-seeing EYE.
Not… well, how you would think, or Toast-alisti, or Totallica, Metallisti or
Toilet Seat – all of which have been jokingly applied to the band over what
is now a distinguished four record career.
The Metallica comparisons are well in the past though. What this Enumclaw,
Washington (!) band have come up with on their strident Slave To None is a
snarling combination of progressive metal and aggressive modern metal that
has heretofore never been witnessed, track after track building
brick-on-brick a record that is as enigmatic as it is surprisingly
All intentional, says drummer and co-vocalist Tom Taitano. “One of the
things we really enjoy is odd times and really syncopated parts - and trying
to make them groove. We tried to make the technicality second to the
ability to make it feel good. The guys will come in with a melody and then
I approach them with the rhythm and say, ‘Here's how we can do this; here's
how we can break it down,’ almost like a math problem. ‘If you want to turn
it into a 4/4 feel we can do that; if you want to turn it into a 6/8 feel,
maybe a 5/4 or a 7/4, let’s go!’ For example, “Severed Ties” is a song that
starts out in 7/8, goes to 4/4 for the verse, then goes to 5/4 for the
chorus, and it's just a matter of feel. Our big thing is instead of trying
to create these big parts, I think we try to focus on making great
transitions from part to part. As far as, ‘Where does the thought go?’ -
it's definitely in our transitions.”
The swirling, exotic, percussive, yet seamless feel of Slave To None, no
doubt has a lot to do with the producer for the album, none other than
Queensryche drummer Scott Rockenfield. “Scott was just a great
inspiration,” says Tom. “He was able to come in and provide a lot of
insight into how to make a good song. He was able to sit down and say, ‘OK,
let's make this cohesive. Let's work on adding some flavor. Let's build up
these lyric ideas and add some different harmonies here.’ He was able to
give us some ideas on small transitions, especially for me, being a drummer.
He was able to say, ‘I'm hearing a lot of this repetitive part; spice this
up a little bit. Let's take a little more risk here.’ so he did just that.
He came in as producer and added a lot of experience and expertise. I would
say he really helped us vocally. We were strong with our instrumentation
and he helped the vocals reach that same level. He said, ‘Let's sit down
and make this happen.’ and when it came to do lyrics, he would say, ‘OK,
let's make this icing a little bit sweeter.’
With influences as diverse as Demon Hunter, Extol - yes, the first two
cited! - Tool, Rush, Dream Theater, Korn and Incubus, it is no surprise that
Totalisti have created a surging, provocative, pounding yet expertly
constructed and detailed record of near indescribable proportions. The
unique flavoring is not just housed within the band’s inspired playing.
Vocally, Totalisti are well outside typical conventions as well.
“Mark usually takes the lead, and I, on this album, typically drop an octave
below him,” explains Taitano. “And there are other songs where you hear
Eric, our bass player, who will normally go a third above Mark, or drop
somewhere, maybe a third or fifth between what Mark and I are doing. But
our normal way of doing things is Mark sings the high note, I sing an octave
lower, and Eric is somewhere in the middle.”
But there’s a roar as well, placing Totalisti quixotically in the modern.“Mark, again, does the higher end, and I do the really low roaring vocals.
I think we did that on two songs where previously, on the last album, he
would sing these really throaty vocals, and I would growl an octave lower,
and we actually developed this harmony to a growl, which is just really
weird. When you hear it, it makes sense and you say ‘Yeah, we growl in
harmony.’ It's kinda funny, but it works. And we’ve just developed from
Even lyrically, the band is a stinging, fresh slap in the face to metal
convention. “You know, we like to write about hope,” says Taitano, point
blank. “We like to write about positive messages. Life is about choices.
When you wake up in the morning, you can have a positive outlook and learn
from your life - just be glad and be thankful. You have a choice to be
either a victim or a survivor. We really like to write about how we deal
with our own issues in our own lives, and yet, try to find a positive theme,
if any. There's always going to be that diamond in the rough, in that the
pile of manure, so to speak (laughs).”
Positivity indeed reigns on Slave To None. From the buoyant, circular
grooves heat-treating nearly every track, to the novel vocal presentation of
the band’s optimistic messages, this is a record that will have more
discerning aficionados of hard rock swelling with renewed energy.
“We really are slaves to none,” explains Taitano, in closing, referencing
the loaded meaning of this triumphant record’s title. “Are we going to be a
slave to anything? Are we going to be a victim of anything? It's our
choice. There's just a lot of power behind that statement. We just believe
in hope and being positive. In this society, people think they are slaves,
and in reality, we're only slaves to our own choices.”