A prolific and veteran entity within the Extreme Metal community, T.O.M.B. (Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy) exists in the yawning space between genres, melding Noise, Black Metal, Industrial, and Ambient soundscapes into a hellish cauldron of unease and terror. On January 24, 2020, the band will release Thin the Veil via Peaceville Records, looking to detonate the new year with fury and aplomb.
Their sixth full-length album, on top of multiple demos and a few splits, Thin the Veil boasts a premier production job courtesy of Tore Stjerna of Necromorbus Studios in Sweden, with album art provided by one Erik Danielsson of Watain fame. The percussive contributions of Jan Axel Blomberg, aka Hellhammer, famed drummer of Black Metal household names Mayhem and Arcturus, rounds out what is certainly a star-studded effort.
As it turns out, there is a reason why so many influential people got themselves involved with T.O.M.B.’s music. Vocalist No-One (Jake Gannon) and Guitarist Samantha Viola have cooked up an absolute firestorm, a return of darkness and evil that conjures up that spirit of Beherit, when Black Metal had that unhinged feeling of true “necro” behind it. But they accomplish this with a manic Industrial and even War Metal approach that conjures up everything from Mysticum and Red Harvest to Nordvargr and Heresiarch, but channels it through their own superb crucible of creative dissonance.
The stygian hammer blow that begins the album, “No Return” lays it down hard, storming relentlessly upon the listener. Organic and Metal as hell, it nevertheless pulses with a hypnotic, blackened industrial rhythm, setting the stage for the descent that awaits. If “No Return” is the adventurous journey, then “Where the Wretched Lurk” is the event horizon preceding the plunge into darkness. Slithering into murky, distorted growls and some repetitive percussion, the listener is dragged into a spiraling nadir before things pick up just a bit.
Built upon the pillars of No-One’s throaty incantations, a fantastic drumming sequence powers up on “Pestilence” before T.O.M.B. begins to show their more psychedelic side. After a nightmare of ghostly spoken word, the title track brings about a showcase of primitivism that somehow evokes the early lo-fi aesthetics of occult Black Metal (think very early Samael and the aforesaid Beherit) without diminishing the quality of the recorded result. Whereas some bands attempt to cultivate feelings of darkness, despair, hatred, and loss, T.O.M.B. emits them like carbon dioxide from a pair of lungs; the music breathes with it in a quite natural fashion.
One thing evident in the music of Thin the Veil is that within each song there is a stringent lack of tempo change variation. Instead, in keeping with this particular strain of pseudo-Industrial Black Metal, songs build through repetitive percussive rhythms, such as the claustrophobic closer “Hellmouth,” and especially the dominant “Lunar Reckoning.” Many of the songs feature drum parts derived from a similar pattern, one that becomes familiar but not at all boring. “Lunar Reckoning” is no exception. The guitars layer and reverberate with crawling menace, and one can hear some of the more iconic tom and snare strikes laid down by the esteemed Hellhammer. On “Pure Noise Necromancy,” it feels like Anaal Nathrakh met Godflesh in a dark alley and they had a kid and that kid was T.O.M.B.
These comparisons, though valid, are in no way meant to convey that T.O.M.B. is cutting and pasting. Quite the contrary. In a world containing tons of Darkthrone, Bathory, and Venom clones, here we have a group who has created something vast and difficult to define, for all it wastes little time going for the listener’s throat. T.O.M.B. has truly melded together a host of styles and made something that is both terrifying and satisfying. For that, Cryptic Rock gives Thin the Veil 4.5 out of 5 stars.