December 12, 2014 Tombs – Savage Gold (Album Review)
Brooklyn Metal transcendence has been achieved with the latest offering from Tombs, released June 10, entitled Savage Gold. With vocalist/guitarist Mike Hill being the only original member remaining of the band that he founded in 2007 with bassist Domonic Seita and drummer Justin Ennis, Tombs has undergone some changes. Stabilized by the addition of drummer Andrew Hernandez II in 2009, the band has released two studio albums since with contributions from guitarist Garett Bussanick and bassist Ben Brand. Savage Gold was produced by Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal, and despite being recorded at Mana Studios in sunny St. Petersburg, FL, this album is dark and brooding, reflecting the last three years since Path of Totality was released in 2011. A more extreme offering this time around, Savage Gold is grim in its dark approach.
“Thanatos” opens this record with an eerie atmospheric intro, which suddenly explodes into double kick, blasting chaos. What follows is a journey through many different landscapes. The finality of death, the fragility of life, the search for meaning and the frustration and absolute necessity of powerlessness are covered throughout Savage Gold. “Portraits” is next, and, as with its predecessor, it includes haunting guitar riffs and impassioned vocals that are hammered home by the precision attack of Hernandez II on the drums. Hernandez II both roots and drives Tombs with his artful architecture, which features aggressive blasting, double bass and machine gun like snare work as well as tasteful, solid rhythms. This is evident in “Seance,” which is a less chaotic but no less powerful inquest into the after life. In “Echos,” Hernandez II and Brand merge to support Bussanick’s nuanced guitar work and Hill’s ominous vocals as they warn of everpresent darkness. The track “Deathtripper” is an unsettling exploration of the fine line between worlds. It is a standout track sure to please fans of industrial gloom, combining airy, soothing guitars with vocals that hypnotize. Brand delivers a dynamic bass line that draws the listener closer before a steadily building climax that leaves them with a repeated finale that is not soon forgotten.
Upping the intensity again is the song “Edge of Darkness.” Feeling like the anchor of the record, this piece has some compelling riffs and changes. Wisely chosen as the first single, it is a gripping track destined for infinite replay. Meanwhile, “Ashes” is a brutal Black Metal track with a sweet, unnerving ending, and has been featured in Decibel Magazine’s flexi series, where subscribers receive a new vinyl flex disc in the magazine. The song “Legacy” once again showcases the relentless and ever cycling facility of drummer Hernandez II as he flows like water through changing feels and grooves, never betraying the existence of a seam. “Severed Lives” creeps deliberately with utterances whispered by Hill and is gripping and impactful in its understated approach. The closing track, “Spirals,” is a fitting end to Savage Gold as a black metal anthem about the end of all.
Savage Gold is about endings, evolution, transformation, and nothingness. Tombs is an ever evolving band that asks many questions and they make their audience think. Hill and Hernandez II have written a record that represents a culmination of the band’s evolution that has spanned nearly a decade. They have a no nonsense approach to making metal. The music is intriguing and at times spellbinding, as the sound is raw and real. Savage Gold is layered with nuance and simplicity, without being simple. An engaging offering by a very interesting band. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.