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Milagrosa (Volcom Entertainment)

Wednesday, Jul 2 2008

With more than a decade of bashing out sludgy, Melvins-inspired heaviness, Oakland power trio Totimoshi takes a step into new territory with a considerably more dynamic sound on its fifth effort, Milagrosa. Joined again by Helmet principal Page Hamilton as producer, the group consciously broadens its palette. The slashing guitar and declamatory delivery of frontman Tony Aguilar remain the focal point, but the biting tone and staccato ax attack on opening anthem "Sound the Horn" owes far more to Shellac than to Black Sabbath. Other tunes mark an even greater departure from Totimoshi's past. The melancholy "Last Refrain" twists Pixies-style quiet/loud counterpoints and vocal harmonies from bassist Meg Castellanos and guest vocalist Mike Kissam to great effect, while the jittery, stop-start rhythms on "El Emplazado" and "Gnat" echo the Jesus Lizard's lurching skronk. Though some musical detours aren't quite as successful — the acoustic ballad "Forever in Bone (Los Dos)" comes off a bit overwrought — the pulverizing dirge "Little Bee" and richly textured album closer "Dear" show off a new level of refinement in the band's songwriting. It isn't exactly a party-starting selection for your Friday night, but the moody Milagrosa finds Totimoshi charting a unique course in heavy music.

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Dave Pehling


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