Virtually unknown, but well worth searching for
After stunning listeners with their debut effort Winter Hours in 2009, Brooklyn (New York) based outfit Tomb has finally returned with their long awaited second full-length effort Path of Totality (I’m excluding 2010’s Fear is the Weapon as it was a compilation of older material). And once again, the three piece outfit (who now comprise of vocalist/guitarist Mike Hill, bassist Carson Daniel James and drummer Andrew Hernandez) have managed to create an album that is anything but easy to pin down description wise.
The opening track Black Hole of Summer provides a chaotic start to the album, with its intense barrage of instrumentation at the beginning, and its eventual move towards a mid-paced dirge of crushing riffs and Hill’s bellowing Matt Pike (High on Fire/Sleep) like vocals. While the song doesn’t have any real innovative elements, Tombs manage to make those few simple ideas work exceedingly well. The production from John Congleton (whose credits include Baroness and Explosions in the Sky) is also worthy of a mention, as his production perfectly captures Tombs’ dense sound with a certain amount of clarity.
The intense sonic storm that is To Cross the Land is a definite stand out on the album with its blackened atmospherics and blasting moments, while the groove/semi-thrash based Constellations, the crushing title track Path of Totality and the vaguely punk edged Silent World (which is surprisingly given a bit of a melodic edge with the use of clean vocals in places) are further favourites.
Another couple of tracks worth singling out is Black Heaven, which boasts a creepy atmosphere within a kind of new wave/post-punk sound (which in some ways reminds me of a mix of Isis and Mastodon), and the closer Angel of Destruction, which is very downbeat, and feels more along the lines of a funeral hymn than anything else of the album.
Tombs have never been an easy band to describe, and even after listening to this album several times, it’s still a challenge to put a fitting description to their sound. But if you could imagine a mix of hardcore/punk, black metal, noise and sludge metal, and then throw in almost everything else that comes to mind, then you may have some idea of what to expect. Either way, Tombs have a very experimental sound. But more importantly, they have one that works on every level.
Despite acclaim across the board for their debut effort Winter Hours, Tombs still remains one of the most overlooked acts currently residing on Relapse Records’ vast roster. Hopefully that lack of attention will be rectified with Path of Totality.
(Relapse Records/Riot! Entertainment)