“Tear away the veil”, sings Tombs’ Mike Hill on his latest album’s opener, Black Sun Horizon. Once it’s gone, you’re confronted by a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape, where the sun’s rays seldom pierce through the gloom, and where shards of blackened metal rain from the sky.
Yet the New York outfit – built around Hill’s dark vision – have always been inventive in their approach, never sticking too close to post-BM clichés… and The Grand Annihilation is no exception.
So while Tombs can conjure total hellfire – Way Of The Storm, for instance, is a torrent of blastbeats and lacerating riffs – or deliver punishing, granite-hard grooves (Shadows at the End of the World), they’re equally adept at moving in the shadows of Gothic post-punk, as the breathtaking Underneath demonstrates.
It helps that Hill can switch from anguished cries and guttural growls to deep, Nick Cave-like vocals, and that his current line-up seems adept at executing his ideas. It also helps that with the aid of extreme metal overlord Erik Rutan, Tombs’ uncompromising sound has plenty of raw muscle to it this time out, making their fourth album seem more powerful than anything they’ve unleashed in the past.
The Grand Annihilation? An apt title for Tombs’ latest offering, no doubt about it.