Tombs - Path Of Totality

Some might know Tombs best simply that it is a project from Mike Hill, a renown Hardcore Metal performer in Anodyne from Brooklyn, New York, and it is a bit of stretch for him and his band members. While there are Hardcore influences in Tombs, as proven on their first album, 'The Winter Hours,' the music is much heavier, more atmospheric, and touches almost more upon Post Black Metal mixed with Sludge Metal. It was not pretty stuff, and therefore did not receive much mainstream attention. With their sophomore effort, Tombs decided to make themselves a bit more 'noticeable,' so they amped up their sound a bit. Whereas 'The Winter Hours' had quiet moments that were atmospheric beauties, 'Path Of Totality' is devoid almost of any peace. True to Tombs style, the opening track "Black Hole Of Summer" churns in with depressing chords that are heavily distorted but also layered upon one another for a more melodic output at the same time. The vocals are a cross between Hardcore bellows and Black Metal rasps, with the distortion making them more faded and muddled than usual. Sometimes the band will aim to build the tension of the music such as with "To Cross The Land" before it picks up into a blistering snowstorm of riffs, sounding like something out of Wolves In The Throne Room. Again, Black Metal seems to be a strong influence on the band's work.

Other tracks are still chaotic but include a but more simplistic rhythm. "Bloodletters" is more along the Sludge Metal route with a constant presence of the guitars but solid, changing riffs every once in a while. The vocals lose a bit of their distortion reflecting more Hardcore or Crust Metal influences, but the output is still gritty as ever. Only on a few tracks is there actual singing, which under the haze of the music, brings int the realm of Shoegaze. The track "Black Heaven" do things suddenly change a bit as there is actually singing involved as opposed to the snarling. Here Tombs seem to have taken an outlet more for a sound like Mastodon, which is a bit of a change for Tombs' direction, but not the best use of the atmosphere as the vocals and guitars seem to clash with high wrath of distortion. On "Passageways" and "Silent World" the vocal output is barely audible until near the end (where it is the usual snarl), but one can make out some low, droning chanting that is much more suited for the atmospheric sludge that Tombs aims to create.

The final track on 'Path Of Totality' is mostly instrumental, which sounds like a bombastic symphony of crushing Doom Metal as the guitars just hammer on and on until they tone down in the end to just a few notes every few seconds with the singing faded out in the background, sometimes carried on wings of distortion to add a reverb effect. This may be the only 'calm' moment on the entire album, but it is perfectly all right to let listeners down easy as opposed to just providing a huge, raging headache the entire album. Some might notice that compared to 'The Winter Hours,' 'Path of Totality' is longer, both with song lengths and the number of tracks. Like a lot of atmospheric Metal options- from Post Black Metal to Post Rock/ Hardcore, it takes a bit to get into the music. 'Totality' is heavier, thicker, and easy to get lost in, but a decent journey for anyone who likes a terrifying sound that doesn't sound like it is overdoing itself in order to be terrifying in the first place. Tombs have set a new standard for themselves and their fans, which sadly, they can never go back on. But, perhaps that is a good thing.

  1. Black Hole Of Summer
  2. To Cross The Land
  3. Constellations
  4. Bloodletters
  5. Path Of Totality
  6. Vermillion
  7. Passageways
  8. Silent World
  9. Cold Dark Eyes
  10. Black Heaven
  11. Red Shadows
  12. Angel Of Destruction

Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Nov 9, 2011
Next review: Lion Splicer - Slicer

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