All Empires Fall EP

Written by: AP on 31/03/2016 19:38:21

Despite suffering an exodus in the wake of their critically acclaimed ”Savage Gold” LP two years ago, little has changed in terms of the momentum propelling Brooklyn, NY’s post-black metal sensation Tombs. In fact, the band’s line-up has only swollen since the departure of guitarist Garrett Bussanick and drummer Andrew Hernandez II. Not only were the two musicians swiftly replaced by Evan Void and Charlie Schmid, respectively; Mike Hill, the lone founding member and author of Tombs’ success, also decided to introduce the novelty of a keyboard player and backing vocalist personified by Fade Kainer onto the palette. The new personnel needed a proper presentation of course, so once the five musicians had gelled over the course of 2015, they set about writing new material that arrives now in the form of an EP, “All Empires Fall”.

As you would expect, the incorporation of new thinkers facilitates new ideas, and for Tombs that translates to dialling down the sludge and hardcore influences so prevalent on “Savage Gold” so as to carve out extra space for a more orthodox interpretation of black metal. The instrumental track “The World is Made of Fire” suggests otherwise at first, opening the proceedings with one of those really dire, sludgy riffs that were put to heavy use on the previous outings. But once the first song proper, “Obsidian” takes over with a cascade of blastbeats and wintry melody, the chasm between “All Empires Fall” and “Savage Gold” is painted in stark colours. With the exception of a few bursts of Americanised, metallic hardcore, the song is more atmospheric than anything Tombs have unleashed to date, with especially the repeating tremolo chords and shrill midsection from 02:05 onwards leaving a haunting impression. The sharp, ominous shredding that drills through some 30 seconds later sends the quintet deep into Norwegian black metal territory, further explored in the melancholy, yet apocalyptic closing track “V”. The latter also bears witness to the shamanic, chanting style of baritone vocalisation that Kainer contributes, and which, in liaison with some seriously eerie samples, synths and effects, makes the slow-burning “Last Days of Sunlight” sound like a sinister, infernal mass. In a sense, his voice is infused with far more dread than Hill's own growls and shrieks, and is pivotal to differentiating the loftier new material from the raw and nigh impenetrable discharges of noisy, hardcore-infused black metal of old.

Only the dense, Terror-esque chug of “Deceiver” provides respite for those that prefer the ‘old’ Tombs, and while especially in the second half it tries to stick to the red chord, in the context of the evolution taking place across the remaining four tracks it quickly emerges as not just the odd one out, but also the weakest of the bunch. Its inclusion is easy to understand however: to ease the metamorphosis for the band’s longer standing followers, who would be well advised to prepare for ever more drastic changes when an eventual full-length featuring the current line-up surfaces. For now though, we must make do with this rather compact showcase of Tombs’ future vision, which leaves the mouth watering with a lingering appetite. Whether “All Empires Fall” will prove a decisive (and divisive?) moment in the group’s career remains to be seen, but at the very least the EP continues their proud tradition of always pushing the envelope.

Download: Obsidian, V
For the fans of: Indian, Inter Arma, Primitive Man
Listen: Facebook

Release date 01.04.2016
Relapse Records

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