Colossal and imposing, two words that only give a hint at the powerful and dramatic wall of sound on “Path Of Totality”, the second album on Relapse Records from Brooklyn band Tombs. Consisting of twelve sonically crushing metal tracks drawing on numerous varied genre sounds the trio create the darkest and deepest pool of noise to consume and devour the senses.
With an apparent basis in black metal Tombs distort and revitalise it with sounds as varied as industrial, sludge metal, hardcore, and post punk, even an occasional breath of gothic rock can be heard. They fuse and create an intensity that binds their at times inspired experimental sound in a tight and smothering oppressive droning wave of noise, though it never snuffs out the bands creativity and ideas.
From the opening track, ‘Black Hole Of Summer’, the album is an incessant intrusion but layered with intelligent and darkly melodic surges that make the eruption welcome. Whereas the opener is a solid and satisfying beginning, the next song ‘To Cross The Land’ raises the level in aggression, ideas, and impact. The most immediate thing is the early Killing Joke like pounding feel of the track, from the throbbing bass riffs of Carson Daniel James and his dark immense rhythm attack alongside drummer Andrew Hernandez to the vocals of guitarist Mike Hill, in a style very similar to Jaz Coleman, the song easily rates a highly praised comparison to anything on the first two albums from Killing Joke. This flavour is often quite apparent on the album, as the next track ‘Constellations’ shows openly. That this is a positive must be emphasised, this is no mere reworking of other bands work, just an open and honest influence spicing the sound of Tombs.
Track by track new noisescapes are created and unveiled, each an edgy adventure and journey in the bands aural vision. From the visceral guitar scarring of ‘Bloodletters‘, through the Joy Division gothic industry of ‘Passageways’, to the sorrowful desolation of the albums best track ‘Silent World‘, and all surrounding, the release rides upon a hypnotic and unrelenting groove which is undeniably impressive.
Each department of the band forges a link with the others, creating the tightest and expansive sound they can. Where many bands trying to follow the same route as Tombs, make and employ the same sonic assault, most flounder when trying to make each track openly distinguishable from another; this is never the case anywhere on “Path Of Totality”, upon the molten metallic consistent grind throughout, there is plenty of varied and inspiring elements. Whether the towering dynamic drumming, the smouldering shadow inspired bass rumblings, or the soaring and siren like call of guitar, the album is carefully crafted with distinct and engaging parts.
Recorded by John Congleton (Baroness, Explosions in the Sky), “Path Of Totality” is an atmospheric album, oozing dark muscular moods, the production allowing the softer melodic winding elements to find their rightful place within the blackened blanket of noise. Though Tombs‘ music comes with unashamed aural references to bands such as Killing Joke, Joy Division, Swans, and Godflesh, their songs are unique, living things that emerge to reign over all current rivals treading the same sonic route. The album is a challenge to listen to in one complete sitting but it is well worth making the testing effort.