Whilst some bands try to conform to current trends and some bands try to recreate a tried and tested formula, there are some bands that plough their own furrow, operating outside of convention, willing to push the boundaries and challenge an audience. One such band that fall into this non-conformist category are Total Victory.
In existence since 2007 and having released two self-funded albums, Total Victory have operated below the radar, with a sound far removed from the latest NME pet project. Mainstream acclaim may so far have eluded the Greater Manchester 5 piece but for anybody that has had the pleasure of catching them live the experience will live long in the memory. This brings us to the bands recent exploits in France and the inspiration behind the recently released Tour EP. (You can read all about the said tour here)
The EP features three new tracks and two live recordings, up first is new track Arnhem, named after an unassuming Dutch city made famous by a World War II battle for a key bridge that ultimately ended in defeat for the allies. The incessant beat of the track pounds out a rhythm for the repetitive vocals and eerie guitars to overlay and build, interspersed by blasts of white noise to create a dark atmosphere that gathers momentum, vocals turning into a mantra, the pace getting more frenzied, guitars howling to reach a crescendo before spitting you out of the other side, dazed and confused. The classic Total Victory formula!
The second new track is House Of Lords an altogether different affair with a dark, brooding bass line that menacingly grinds away creating a grungy funeral march atmosphere, the melancholic deep baritone vocals adding to the heavy appraisive soundscape. Not for the faint-hearted! Up next is a live recording of Fiat Lux, the opening track from the bands first album The Pyramid of Privilege a firm favourite that encapsulates just what Total Victory are about, uplifting moments of melody contrasting with white noise, rage, emotion and pure energy.
The third new track is Golden Calf and is the most accessible track on the EP, with a classic alt-rock guitar sound that has a great change-up into the chorus. Total Victory writing a catchy up-beat little number – surely not?? The final track is another live recording and traditional set closer of a Total Victory gig, King of Discipline from the second album National Service. The feedback and effects laden guitars cut a sharp backdrop against a beat that rises and falls incomprehensibly, vocals delivered by a singer completely taken by the music, the whole thing on the verge of a brilliant chaos before breaking into a marching band beat and a chant of “It’s war, disarm me and put me in the army” building again with guitars ringing out unremittingly, the pace frantic, the chant continuing over and over before dropping back to the rhythm and finally just the chant.
The Tour EP may be the last we hear of Total Victory for a while, as band members get on with matters in the real world. It would be a real shame if we didn’t see more of Total Victory as it is bands like them, refusing to conform and prepared to take risks that push music forward, whether it wants to or not!