by Joe Mis
– Senior Columnist –
Tothem is one of the latest entries into the now crowded Gothic Metal scene in Italy. Formed back in 2003, the band misfired and broke up after releasing their self-titled EP. The quintet reformed in 2010, with only vocalist Roslen and guitarist Black Cyril returning. Tothem now has a full length debut entitled Beyond The Sea under their belts.
Roslen and Cyril are now joined by Marco on keys, Leo on bass, and Andrea The Joker on drums. After playing the club circuit in Rome and performing at a number of festivals, the new lineup recorded a second EP, Osaka Bed & Breakfast, which received solid press and returned to the studio to begin work on their debut. Released in limited numbers in late 2012, Beyond The Sea brought the band new fans and decent press – enough that the band was able to put together a full promotional tour.
Probably the best description of the band’s music is as a mix of the rock roots of Lacuna Coil, the Gothic overtones of Evanescence, and the technical melodies of Ravenscry. Tothem has added a few operatic flourishes of their own to create a unique sound. “Run To You” is a massive, butt-kicking guitar-driven track. Roslen’s voice is decent as she runs from soft to near operatic, however she does have a tendency to thin out a bit when she pushes. Beautiful piano opens the very Amy Lee sounding “Smile Again” – in fact Amy could probably perform this song exactly as written. Roslen does a nice job on the vocals, and while not carrying Lee’s raw power she displays a greater range. This is definitely the standout track on the album – everyone in the band simply does a stellar job. “This Is The Time” has a nice, near medieval , groove to it, and displays Roslen’s voice at its best as she stays fully in her comfort zone. “Light of Soul” is a soft vocal/piano piece, and Cyril’s guitar solo is a soaring, spiraling masterpiece.
Powerful bass is the keystone of “Rescue” as the sweeping vocals dance over a chugging, mid-tempo rhythm line. A similar, although more operatic, vocal flow over crunchy rhythm line trademarks “Beyond The Sea,” with this one being pushed more by drums than bass. The big gurgling bass is back on the up-tempo “Fight With You,” a more progressive sounding track with excellent keyboard support. “The Witch” is a quick little folk-metal track that sounds like a mix of Leaves’ Eyes and Blackmore’s Night.
“So Close So Far Away” is a fine ballad – the best of the softer tracks. Roslen explores the lower end of her range and dishes up the power without going operatic. Piano and rhythm support keep the track flowing along nicely, and once again the guitar solo is nothing short of amazing. “Cross The Line” is a progressive style track with a very simple but effective guitar line and lively keyboards. “Still” is a slower and darker track, and Roslen seems to over sing most of it (and the vocals layers are a bit over done as well), resulting in the only disappointing song on the CD. “Where The Angels Lie” features a gritty and dirty bass groove – very different from the balance of the album. The layered guitars and keys work well, making the closing track a memorable one.
On the whole, Tothem’s Beyond The Sea is a strong debut, marking the band as one to watch. There are few flaws here though. Other than Roslen’s occasional vocal over-pushing, too many of the songs have the same overall vibe – but the band has the raw talent to mix it up as they become more comfortable working together. Tothem seems to find their groove when performing their slower numbers, but show a good deal of potential in the hard and heavy stuff. Roslen’s operatic edge is well done, although at times it seems forced rather than natural. The mix on the album is very good, allowing each instrument to be heard crisply and clearly without the audio fog that sometimes accompanies Gothic metal releases.
While not perfect, Tothem’s Beyond The Sea is recommended for fans of Gothic metal. This band is one to watch, and will be a major player in the Goth scene with just a touch more seasoning.
Genre: Gothic Metal
Black Cyril (guitar, vocals)
Marco (piano, keyboards, synths)
Andrea the Joker (drums, percussion)
1. Run To You
2. Smile Again
3. This Is The Time
4. Light Of Soul
6. Beyond The Sea
7. Fight With You
8. The Witch
9. So Close So Far Away
10. Cross The Line
12. Where The Angels Lie
Label: Maple Metal Records
Hardrock Haven rating: 7/10