• Tombs – All Empires Fall

    Tombs – All Empires Fall
    Released by: Relapse Records
    Releasing on: April 1st, 2016.
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    This new album from Brooklyn, New York’s own Tombs (following up their 2014 release Savage Gold) once again features vocalist/guitar player Mike Hill (the only original member since the band formed in 2007) up front. This time he’s joined by bass player Ben Brand (who also played on Savage Gold) as well as drummer Charlie Schmid, guitar player Evan Schaefer, and keyboard/synth player Fade Keiner (who also contributes some vocals here and there). Like past efforts from Tombs, this five track release mixes things up in interesting ways but at the same time, those familiar with the band’s back catalogue will have no trouble at all identifying this as Tombs’ music.

    The World Is Made Of Fire opens things up, Keiner’s synth laying down an ominous vibe right from the start over which a barrage of different sounds erupts sporadically. A heavy riff kicks in followed by some intense drumming and we’re off into a thick, skuzzy cloud of beautiful, heavy noise. There’s some melodic guitar work here over top of the riff work, but those drums… damn. This three minute instrumental is intense, moody and fantastic.

    Obsidian is up next, a fairly traditional sounding black metal track that runs just over five minutes. Hill’s vocals on this song are absolutely fierce, he howls like a man possessed and it really suits the blasting attack that the band lays down behind him. This segues into the four minute Last Days Of Sunlight perfectly. There’s a calm before the storm effect to this third track. Things sound dark, heavy, spooky even, but they stay restrained for a bit, putting atmosphere and technique over intensity and aural assault. The drums are repetitive but they anchor the track while Hill’s vocals take a calmer, more collected approach. If later era Einstürzende Neubauten put out a metal album, it might sound like this.

    Deceiver builds nicely, starting with some simple drumming over a wave of keyboards and evolving into crunching riffs, pounding bass and drums and then more of Hill’s ferocious vocal work. This track keeps a steady pace, never going into full on blast mode but at the same time, relentless in its weight and dark sound with some weird add on vocals in the later half adding something different here. The EP closes off with a fifth track appropriately titled V. It’s just short of six and a half minutes and it starts off with some droning, almost soothing noise before the drums slap you in the face and the rest of the band follows suit around the minute and a half mark. Hill’s vocals here sound like something off of one of the Sisters Of Mercy’s better albums, there’s a sort of gothish vibe going on, but it works. The vocals stop and let the band do their thing for an instrumental stretch about half way through before swelling back up in the mix as the playing intensifies and things get heavier, louder, a bit more intense – keyboards rise up over top of the stringed instruments all playing in tight, tight unison while some howling backing vocals complement the more subdued leads perfectly.

    It’s only five songs, less than a half an hour’s work of music, but All Empires Fall continues Tombs’ trend of mixing musical genres and styles in fascinating ways, creating music that’s both impressive in its technique and raw, sometimes devastating, in its intensity and emotional punch.