“Savage Gold, that’s a pretty catchy and powerful title” was my first thought when Mike Hill (vocals/guitar/main songwriter) told me the name of the third record of his established act TOMBS.
The Brooklyn-based band has gone through a variety of line-up changes and shifts in sound over the last years. When TOMBS started from the ashes of Mike’s old band Versoma, the first EP on Level Plane Records showed a very different sound from that of TOMBS in 2014. The years brought two critically acclaimed records with ‘Winter Hours‘ and ‘Path Of Totality‘. The direction was audible: the (black) metal influence grew bigger and bigger, but Hill always made sure the initial sounds that made TOMBS a distinguishable act stayed in the game.
The heaviness certainly came by part through the addition of drummer Andrew ‘Lone Wolf’ Hernandez the 2nd in 2009. At least, he was able to play the forceful drums needed to support these heavy songs. His first appearance was on ‘Path Of Totality‘. This time around, ‘Shit just got real!’, to quote the Hernandez himself. I followed his preparation for the recording session for ‘Savage Gold‘ via Facebook. Later, I saw the video of the bands’ show in Brooklyn they played one day before shipping out to Florida to record the new album. This will see the light of day on June 10th via Relapse Records. I heard the new songs and saw how intense Andrew and the rest of the band performed. I was speechless. It was not comparable to the pre-recording demos I got from Mike some months back.
[audio:http://www.cvltnation.com/wp-content/audio/TOMBS Edge_of_Darkness.mp3|titles=Edge of Darkness – TOMBS]
The new additions to the band in bass player Ben Brand and second guitarist Garrett Bussanick make quite an impact. They have a history of playing in heavy bands as well and bring this experience to the table. You find four musicians that are on point at what they do. Genuine ideas and well written songs, a crushing production perfectly fitted for the songs, and an overall balance on the album between heaviness, emotion and gloom. So if you sum it up, the band is at the peak of what they are doing. The whole album seems so well balanced and perfectly executed. From the first listen on, you will find yourself in a maelstrom of ferocity. It is definitely more aggressive and straight forward than the albums before.
Now ‘Savage Gold‘ is upon us, and it is a monster of a record. As mentioned before, it is certainly the most “metal” record TOMBS has done. You can also see in the video and new promo photos that the band also “looks” more metal than ever. Not that it really matters, but it suits them. The whole sound, the way it is recorded, the songs and the visual aspect just blend together perfectly. For recording, the band worked together with a well-known expert for heavy music: Erik Rutan. The man with the plan when it comes to (Death) Metal seemed like the perfect choice for the sound needed for Savage Gold (see details on the recording process in the interview I did with Mike Hill). Rutan transferred his typical sound he uses on mostly Death Metal acts to bring out a whole new level of intensity in TOMBS. The whole record sounds dryer than its predecessors – more on point, more focused. The trademark guitar melodies are outstanding and captivating in typical Mike Hill fashion. This time around, the harmonic aspect with the bass lines and the second guitar has more room to breathe. Hernandez’s drums play a more dominant role than ever before. Finally, he is able to showcase his skills, ideas and brute force at the same time.
From the Ulcerate/Deathspell Omega-influenced opener “Thanatos” (my favorite on the record), via the more hypnotic, industrialized “Deathripper” to the ‘More metal than your Ma’s kettle’ “Edge Of Darkness,” you find such bright variety in this narrow cosmos that Metal music sometimes is. “Severed Lives” brings a ballad-esque version of TOMBS that sounds like an offspring to A Storm Of Light and Alaric. In the end, you find yourself captured with “Spiral,” a song matching its title. A perfect ending to a fantastic record.
The band brought a bright variety of influences they were able to combine in their own sound. I am reminded of Celtic Frost meets Killing Joke meets Gorguts meets contemporary French BM acts, but that’s not even close to what they are doing. It never sounds like a copy at any point. Tombs have a strong, significant sound of their own. They outgrew the position of a band that needs comparison to being an act people use as a reference for others. But there actually is no act that can really be compared to TOMBS. They are 100% a brand of their own and dominate in what they do. With ‘Savage Gold‘ they will hopefully cross the point of being an insider tip to a household name that people appreciate they way this band deserves to be, especially in Europe. These guys wrote one of the most interesting metal records of recent times. Do yourself the favor of getting this piece of Gold and support them whenever they come to your town.