Well. Where do I start? It took one listen for me to realise what I’d got my grubby hands on, an album that would hijack my music-listening side of life. Not only for the past few weeks, but for a good while yet. Tomb Mold are back and even better with Manor of Infinite Forms.
In what’s already proving to be a busy year for the Toronto-based band, Tomb Mold are touring everywhere but near me (soon with Of Feather and Bone) and now dropping probably one of the best death metal albums of the year, making my desire to see them live unbearable.
I don’t say that lightly either. The death metal bar has been set high here, so bring your oxygen tanks.
“Manor of Infinite Forms”
Starting off this monster record is the title track, “Manor of Infinite Forms”. The intro section boasts a highly melodic line from the guitars whilst the band go through some gear changes: a little backing, followed by a little more phrasing. A huge steroid-loaded blast beat takes the track to overdrive before a surprising initial groove establishes itself. If you’re fans of the likes of Gatecreeper‘s or Genocide Pact‘s groove based sympathies then you’ve found your new favourite right here.
The main guitar melody that serves as the verse ruff is cheeky and playful, infectious and memorable and just the right dose of sinister. I love the variation this band goes through, subtle changes and alterations to the riffs. The result of this allows Tomb Mold to breathe more life into every moment. The varying pace and feel from the drums not only help the diversity of component riffs but also the song as a whole. From funky rhythms to blast beats, to D-beats and beyond, a hell of a lot of ground is covered.
One of the longer tracks follows next, “Blood Mirror”. The contorted nature of the guitar work here is like nothing else I’ve heard this year. It meanders in unfamiliar ways, as if leading you into a maze with little hope of leaving. The riffs here seem to run over, cut short, it is truly inventive and innovative stuff. They’re playing with you, like a cat would do with the spider. Then, SPLAT! Another bludgeoning beat down helps spill the track over the half way mark.
After another mischievous riff is gifted from the guitars, they switch into a more Sweden inspired race to the finish. I’m feeling early Dismember or Entombed.
Machine gun drum phrases dominate the beginning of “Abysswalker” as the song starts with immediate effect. As the track settles in, so does the now familiar, heavyweight blast beat to take us on our own walk into the abyss.
“Abysswalker” also boasts an incredibly catchy chorus section with a great trade off between the rhythm and lead guitar lines. Clever interplay and intelligent transitions help make this another captivating listen.
“Final Struggle Of Selves”
Yet another catchy riff kicks things off on the album’s fourth track, something Tomb Mold will certainly become synonymous for. The trait of utilising a range of rhythmic styles under the same riff also being a typical death metal convention that Tomb Mold absolutely nail, time after time. This is no better demonstrated than in “Final Struggle Of Selves”.
Upon the first transition we are greeted with what is, probably, riff of the century (about 40 seconds in). Seriously, riff of the century. I’ll hang my hat on that for the time being.
Like their Canadian counterparts, Gorguts, frantic and twisted melodies take you through another lesson in death metal mastery in a nicely compact five minutes.
“Gored Embrace (Confronting Biodegradation)”
Before I could remember the track name, this was called the “head bopper”. The mid-tempo groove holds down the first minute of the album’s fifth track with a salivating opening section. As the verse progresses into the next part, a scrambling drum fill resets the feel entirely, taking the track to new levels. A truly deranged and dark natured collection of riffs alternate between themselves to keep the attention at all times.
As I said before, Tomb Mold nail so many of the traits familiar with the genre and manage to execute in such a fresh and intriguing manner. This faster tempo holds ’til the end, as the band annihilate you with their carefully crafted melody and sheer, unforgiving brutality.
“Chamber Of Sacred Ootheca”
I think this one is my pick of the album. The fact I’m only tentatively committing to this decision is a testament to the quality on offer. Opening up the song is the other contender for riff of the century.
A pummelling kick drum roll pounds through the mid-tempo feel on the album’s penultimate song. The riffs leaves no air as it fluidly rolls round the loop. The track is so hard and unrelenting in its delivery until around two minutes in where the tempo halves and the song takes a more menacing turn. One of many solos across the album packs the back end with plenty of tasty licks and lines to further remind the listener, these fellas can play!
“Two Worlds Become One”
Last but by no means least, “Two Worlds Become One” is all we have left on this journey into death metal magnificence. A flamenco style acoustic guitar runs through an intricate introduction. Complimentary layers of guitar lines are added to fill the small available spaces we begin with.
The band interrupts this potentially sensitive and heart felt closer to return us to the murk and mire. It has the feeling of a closing track, it’s dense with detail and a looming sense of dread takes hold. The song is for the most part almost doom in nature, as it slogs through the trenches slowly, yet with purpose. Things pick up towards the end but this track still feels more like one of Tomb Mold’s slow dances. One for that special someone in your life…
The End Complete
I often touch on most tracks when reviewing an album but with Tomb Mold’s Manor Of Infinite Forms it couldn’t have been any other way. Each track deserves my time to write about it as much as your time to listen. The album is full of talking points as each song is so strong. Riff-to-riff, beat-to-beat, this is the prize fighter, pound-for-pound.