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Album Review: Tombs - Path of Totality
by Ryan Felder

I've always found it really tough to get into black metal. I like lo-fi music, and I like fast, brutal music, but I could never make the natural transition to black metal. I think it's because much black metal sounds art-less to me. Whenever I hear a band like Mayhem or Darkthrone, I get the feeling that the performers are making the songs up on the spot. They seem unconcerned with composition or melody. Sure, there are some cross-over black metal groups like Keep Of Kalessin that add a more composed aspect to the sound, but even then, I get the sense that it's just noise to them.

I think Tombs' new album "Path Of Totality" is the first record I've ever heard make that transition artfully. From Brooklyn, New York, Tombs combine the ferocity of black metal with the crushing low end of sludge metal and the intricate compositions of post-metal. The sixth track of the record, "Vermillion," is a perfect microcosm of this. The track begins with a black metal onslaught - blast beats and tremolo picking. Around a minute in, we're hit with spaced out psychedelic metal vocals that sound just like Ryan Lipynsky, singer for the noted doom metal band Unearthly Trance. The song continues to morph into a post/sludge onslaught that sounds like something ripped straight off of a Mouth Of The Architect album.

Tombs also know how to rock out without getting too bogged down in their genre-hopping experimentation. For example, the third track on the album, "Constellations," would sound right at home on Mastodon's classic album "Blood Mountain," with its punishing, chugging rhythm guitars. The intro riff to the song "Silent World," later on in the record, sounds like a cool throwback Black Sabbath riff.

I like this record because it sounds familiar to me, yet still fresh. It melds the brutality of black metal with the composition and atmospherics of post/sludge in a way that doesn't seem trite or rehashed. They're able to incorporate a broad array of metal influences while still holding down a unique identity. If you're even remotely interested in any of the bands I mentioned above, it would behoove you to check this record out. Yet another excellent metal band from the Relapse Records roster, Tombs is certainly a band to look out for.