Savage Gold is the third album by American post-metal act Tombs. With a thick punishing sound, laden with post-punk melodies, black metal misanthropy and sludgy darkness, its a boundary pushing monolith of an album, dripping with emotion, heaviness and power, with perfect production from Hate Eternal’s Eric Rutan, dark, crushing, epic, atmospheric and melodic all at once.
Opening with Thanatos, the listener is greeted with a short eerie post-punk melody, before kicking into a heavy sludgy riff, burying the listener in darkness, with vocalist Mike Hill bellowing away in true doom fashion, before snarling away when a dose of black metal riffs adds to the maelstrom of dark, all enveloping sound. With post-punk melodies giving an eerier quality when combined with the heavy blackened sludge on offer, it’s a monstrous track, completed by a furious drum performance from Andrew Hernandez, hammering away between intense blasts and exciting fills, matching the different tempos and fantastic song structure on offer in the opening track, which just reeks of abyssal darkness. Second track Portraits is something of a full on black metal assault, with intensely catchy yet melancholic black metal riffs over a great drum performance which brings to mind the might of Ukrainian’s Drudkh, with a dose of Deafheaven’s melodic sense weaving through the track, while the vocals sound particularly great, a rasping low scream, emotional and nigh on perfect. Over it’s seven minutes there’s great riffs from start to finish, and the song writing is so good, it really doesn’t feel like it’s so long. The black metal vibe spills over into Seance, a slower, progressive epic, with sweeping awe-inspiring tremolo picked riffs bringing to mind the progressive dirge of Dark Fortress’s The Valley, but with more bright melodies and less dragging darkness. Those chunky riffs towards the end of the track are about as headbang inducing as it gets, showcasing the band’s ability to change between ideas simply and coherently.
Echoes starts as a slower more atmospheric track, with some very unconvincing clean vocals taking away somewhat from the great progressive riffs, they sound really forced and rather dull. However, we do get more of the mighty bellows from Thanatos back in the mix, which should really have been used more often throughout the album. The sludgy wall of noise half way through the track is brilliant, and one of the best moments from the album, all at once crushing and melodic, before it delves into a full on intense black metal riff assault, with great punky drums. Deathtripper is the only dull track, with a slow riff getting rather boring at the four minute mark when repeated ad nauseum, and the clean vocals once again do nothing for me. Four and a half minutes in it kicks into a dark, twisted abyssal maelstrom of sound, and it’s brilliant, though it could have done with being brought forward several minutes. The repetition of that final line “and suicide” at the end is particularly haunting. A thick caustic death metal riff with a tremendous arcing solo over the top introduces Edge of Darkness, another piece of grand atmospheric black metal, that really crushes with strange, angular jarring riffs that seem to be out to summon Chthulu himself. Savage Gold indeed!
Legacy is another black metal crusher, with a dirty gnarly bass sound,choppy riffs,punky drums and vocals echoing Nocturno Culto. Even with the second wave of black metal influence, they still sound modern and very unique with some inspired production. Severed Lives is slow, dark and brooding, with tortured croaking vocals reminiscent of Tom G Warriors approach at some points on Celtic Frost’s Monotheist. Closer Spirals brings back the speed with another furious drum assault, hypnotic melodic riffs, a crushing caustic atmosphere and more mighty bellows. A great way to end an excellent album.
Overall it’s a great metal album with the post-punk influence generating some interesting ideas and melody. While somewhat akin to Deafheaven with their infectious melodies, this is a much more metal oriented release, and it’s filled with a great heavy atmosphere, originality and downright genius riffs from start to end. It might not be a typical black metal headbanger, rather this is one for close listening, as it’s a very clever album. It’s so well put together, and with each song flowing seamlessly into the next, it’s hard to believe it’s nearly a full hour in length, with diverse and interesting song writing, this is going to go down well with those who want something a bit different in their black metal. Just dispense with those awful clean vocals next time!
Savage Gold will be released June 10th 2014 by Relapse Records
Listen to Edge of Darkness:
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