Spain has been a light focus of mine in these past few months as I’m slowly getting more and more exposure to the band’s scene and witness what great acts the country has to call their own. I’ve been familiar with acts like Itnuveth and Canker as well as being more than familiar with the record label of Xtreem Music, but most recently the country has presented to be the result of three men’s love of Celtic Frost manifest: Totengott. The band’s debut album of original material, “Doppelganger”, is an excellent performance for anyone looking for something dark and heavy metal that does not disappoint in the slightest. It’s one of the most interesting albums that I’ve heard all year, and I was lucky enough to throw some questions at Totengott’s drummer, Jose Mora, in order to gain some insight behind this Spanish group on the future, influences, and what a follow-up could entail. . .
Before we get anywhere, please allow to once again tell you how much I enjoyed “Doppelganger” from beginning to end. It’s really gotten me neck deep in the Spanish metal scene, and I’ve nothing but massive expectations for Totengott in the future.
Thanks for your words and support, a pleasure for us. We really hope your massive expectations come true hahahaha.
- When Totengott first started out, it wasn’t much more than a tribute band for Celtic Frost which is an admirable pick as any. Was it the love for Celtic Frost that brought the band together or was it simply the desire to play music you love in front of a live audience?
It was a bit of everything. We obviously love Celtic Frost’s music and we thought these songs really deserved being played live. We wanted to share them with people and show them how good these tunes are. Covering a band like Celtic Frost was a bit of a crazy idea, especially in Spain where this kind of metal is not supported too much by the metalheads, but I have to say that we had a lot of fun tributing one of our favorite bands, playing some killer tunes on small and big stages (the feeling of playing “Synagoga Satanae” through a huge PA is something else, mate), and getting a bizarre and stupid idea and making it a reality. I also think that choosing Celtic Frost and not any other band is a bit of a statement of philosophy about art and music business. They are just one of the most original, underestimated bands ever and we thought they were a great choice.
- What was it that made you, as a band; feel compelled to create music of your own that eventually took the shape of “Doppelganger”? Was it simply the desire to create something that you can definitively call your own, or was it to approach a style laid forth by your idols but with your own special twist?
It was just the normal evolution of the band after one approximately one year playing Celtic Frost songs. We felt we had a great chemistry as a group, we sounded pretty good from the very first moment so, being ambitious musicians as we are, we couldn’t help but start writing our own songs. We obviously felt the need of continuing with the Celtic Frost philosophy somehow in terms of creating some sincere, dark, doomy and ambitious piece of art. If not we would have probably changed our name. But obviously, we tried and couldn’t help adding our own personality to the songs.
- Last year you put out a demo that was essentially “Doppelganger” but simply as a demo and thus was a more stripped down version. From what I’ve heard you got plenty of praises for that demo and sold over 200 copies of it. How did you guys take that as a group initially, and has it influenced your drive as a band in any way?
Well, we were very surprised because the demo generated a media and audience interest which was unusual for this kind of releases. We didn’t even know if we were going to make a physical copy of the demo at the beginning because we never considered them the final versions of the songs, but people insisted so much that we had to release it in CD format. We even were contacted by a small French label as they wanted to have the demo officially released, but as their intention was to release only tape version and that wasn’t our initial idea for it, we decided not to go ahead with it. With the demo, we realized that the band had a pretty big potential, so after a few months we decided to re record the songs properly and look for some interesting label to release the album. Luckily we reached to a deal with Xtreem Music (which despite being a Spanish label they have a pretty international approach) and Burning World Records (managed by Roadburn Records), so things are going great.
- . In a scant three years, you’ve already performed with plenty of influential bands of all different types of styles. Sodom, Minks, Entombed AD, and even Kowloon Walled City to name but a few. Have these performances influenced your style in any way?
Well, more than influencing our musical style, I would say that the experience of playing with professional bands is always a good test for a band to calibrate if you are up to the expectations compared with them, and a good chance to play for some potential fans or people who, under other circumstances, wouldn’t get to know the band. So basically, from every show you play and from every band you share with, no matter big or small, you get experience, ideas, feelings, and knowledge.
- Trying to pin “Doppelganger” to any one specific style of metal is a folly effort in no short amount. Is this something you guys were going for when initially writing these tracks or did it all just happen organically without you knowing it was happening?
We are very eclectic music listeners so we try to avoid labeling us or sticking to one specific style or scene. We knew we wanted to write heavy, greasy, morbid and dark music, not worrying much about it being doom, death, black, d-beat or whatever. So I guess it happened naturally. Some bands try to fit too much into some specific genre or scene, but when you write music, you simply have to try to write something good, not caring about the style or the sound of it. And that’s what we tried to achieve with “Doppelgänger”
- With future efforts, do you guys plan to try and evolve your style or do you feel very comfortable where you’re at with your sound and don’t see a need to change the formula up now?
We already have written a lot of material for the 2nd album (almost 40 minutes of music completed so far) and these songs, despite following somehow the “Doppelgänger” path, are taking the Totengott sound a little bit further. Some parts are even doomier / sludgier, others have more melody, more ambiance… we are also experimenting with another kind of guitar tunings and musical arrangements. You can definitely hear the Totengott sound in them but they are not a copy of what we have done with our first album. Some people are going to be surprised by them.
- With the release of “Doppelganger” as a proper album and not simply a demo, do you plan to do any sort of touring or string of shows throughout Spain or neighboring countries, or would you prefer to go right back at it and create another record as soon as you could?
Well, we have several shows confirmed for August in the north of Spain. Interesting shows with cool bands as Obituary, Stoned Jesus, and E-Force. We also have the official release show on the 12th of August in which we will play three different sets: the new album completely, the second set with new material and a third set covering Celtic Frost one more time after a couple of years. This one is going to be epic. We are trying to book more shows for the fall and we don’t discard the possibility of trying our luck outside of Spain if the numbers make it possible. On the other hand, I don’t believe it will take us a lot of time to record and release the 2nd album because, as commented, we already have written a lot of material for it.
- Future live events in mind, what would be your dream set list of bands to perform alongside for one show?
We all have different choices here, but I can speak in the name of the three of us when I say that a show with Triptykon, Voivod, Conan, and Totengott would be some sort of a dream event for us. From a personal point of view, playing with Candlemass, Neurosis or the Melvins would be extremely cool.
Thanks so much for answering my blathering questions, and I can’t wait to hear more from Totengott in the future! “Doppelganger” is a stupendous record in every way and I can’t imagine how you’ll try to follow it up, but I’ve no doubt it won’t be anything less than awesome!
Thanks to you for your interest in Totengott, we are very happy that you enjoyed “Doppelgänger”. We will keep you updated about our future steps! Cheers!
I expect great things from this band as they’ve got the talent, potential, and the resources in order to bring their vision to life which many bands don’t get the luxury very often. “Doppelganger” is a real treat from beginning to end, and anyone who’s brave enough to sit through the three crunchy tracks that make up this album will find that Totengott isn’t fucking around for even a second. Keep your eyes peeled for anything from this band in the near future, but until then I cannot help but recommend “Doppelganger” for any one metalhead looking for a damned good time like few other bands can deliver nowadays.
LISTEN to “Doppelganger” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Totengott on Facebook here.