Tombs – All Empires Fall EP (Relapse)

Wednesday, 30th March 2016
Rating: 8/10

The subsequent rise and stabilization of Tombs has been a slow process, probably because Mike Hill and gang take their sweet time when popping out albums. The benchmark is 2011’s monstrous Path of Totality, an album that saw heaps of praise and acclaim thrust upon the band. Its 2014 Savage Gold follow-up may not have been as tantalizing, but the addition of a keyboardist (Fade Kainer) opens the door for new possibilities, as so carefully explored on the five-song, 24-minute All Empires Fall EP.

Still quite capable of straddling whatever black metal line currently exists (“Obsidian” may rank as one of the most extreme and unrelenting songs the band has conjured up to date), Tombs appears to be slowly working in newfound elements. The dreary, soundscape-oriented “Last Days of Sunlight” would certainly extend that notion, as Hill’s clean vocal moans create an atmospheric dimension to go along with the band’s already-in-place…atmospheric dimensions. But it’s the straight-ahead plow of “Deceiver” and whirling “V” that demonstrate Tombs can operate in the brisk, dominant fields of post-black metal U.S.-style (?) while not simply re-tracing previous efforts. (Kainer’s keyboard flourishes are most evident here.)

Alas, the addition of Kainer doesn’t completely move Tomb’s sonic needle away from its formidable core. They may be saving such explorations for a full album, which is where the band can really make a run at altering a sound many bands within the North American extreme metal sphere would give an arm and a leg to have. For now, All Empires Fall pushes Tombs along just fine.

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