As one who constantly sifts through seemingly endless piles of new metal releases from bands all around the world, I often feel like I am hearing the same things over and over and over again. The average music listener may simply filter out anything that does not strike their fancy and focus on a few select bands that interest them. Even if those bands are not all that original, the listener may not have heard the hundred other bands that sound similar and so for them these bands have meaning. I try to keep this in mind as I pick and choose what to cover, because sometimes I pass over bands that are technically good, but play in a style, or remind me of a band, that I have heard far too much of already. Then you have bands like Tombs that just make it easy for me.
I remember back in 2011 when Tombs’ last album, “Path of Totality”, was released to much fanfare from the metal reviewer community. I thought I knew what the band was about and so I never really gave the album a listen. When 2011 came to an end all the lists rolled out, and many featured Tombs, so I decided I really better sit down and give them a listen. Boy was I surprised. What a massively heavy and interesting album it turned out to be. They had my attention.
Naturally, when news arrived this spring of an impending new Tombs album, “Savage Gold”, I began to salivate like Pavlov’s dog. I began checking my email incessantly hoping to find that a promo download had arrived. As it turned out I didn’t have to wait more than a couple of weeks before sweet “Savage Gold” would fill my ears.
My habit of late has been to listen to new music at the gym where I can turn the full attention of my mental faculties towards the music while my physical extremities toil in sweaty torment. Listening to “Savage Gold” that first time at the gym was one of those moments when you know you have heard something very special. This ties back in to where I started this review about how Tombs makes reviewing easy for me. When I hear something so grand and yet so unlike the majority of the music I hear on a daily basis, it is very difficult not to fall for it hard and fast. So I don’t even bother to fight it; I just submit.
Where “Path of Totality” had an all-encompassing and vast sound that enveloped the listener in a sludgy post-metal apocalypse, “Savage Gold” has a less ethereal ambiance and a more compact and tight production. While this sound is focused to a finer point, it is no less crushingly heavy. I would have been happy with a “Path of Totality 2”, but “Savage Gold” shows a band still evolving and maturing, and whets my appetite to find out where they will go next.
“Path of Totality” was the kind of album that music reviewers love for its complexity, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that the average metal fan might not dig deep enough into the sound to find the hidden treasure that lurks within. This music isn’t meant to be easy. “Savage Gold” retains much of that complexity that made the previous album so good, but at the same time I feel like it has a better chance of finding traction with larger metal audiences. I hope that will be the case, because while I love having a great band in my pocket that I can pull out from time to time and fawn over like Gollum and his “precious”, I take even more satisfaction in seeing a deserving band break big.
I have stated on several occasions that the new Triptykon album is the one to beat this year. So far Tombs is the only other band to seriously make a play for album of the year, and at the very least I would say that barring something mind-bendingly incredible releasing in the next six months, you are looking at my number two album of 2014. Don’t be a fool; check this album out right now. Here is the track “Edge of Darkness.”