The first two Tomahawk records were some of the most mainstream music Mike Patton has participated in since his Faith No More days. But the third album, Anonymous, was a departure, as it paid tribute to Native American music while giving Patton and the rest of the band plenty of room to interpret the material.
We’ve already touched on “Sun Dance,” the only single to be released from the album. “Totem” is a heavier tune with a haunting guitar, pounding drums, and ancient chanting (even the moments of clapping sound a little creepy). Patton sings softly for most of the song before changing his tone and getting a little more intense.
Here’s a live version where Patton has some fun with the crowd before the band breaks into the song. Patton is pretty intense when he’s singing, but he’s got nothing on drummer John Stanier.
In 2007, Duane Denison—Tomahawk guitarist, formerly of the Jesus Lizard, and the man who (and I’ll certainly make note of this in every song I cover off Anonymous) got the inspiration for this album while touring Native American reservations with Hank Williams III (!)—was asked how the project would be received by Tomahawk fans.
“I think they’ll like it,” Denison told MTV. “It’s a bit different from the previous two albums, which are fairly straightforward modern rock. But really, this album’s not so different for us. It’s still a rock album, and people who like what Patton does expect him to continually do different stuff. So, some people might hate it and think it’s a stupid idea, that it’s pretentious crap and ask us what we were thinking. Other people will like it because it’s different and well done. We’ll just have to see.”
I’m not sure the album or this song is pretentious—I lean toward no—but there’s no question it’s different. And I think well done.
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