I might’ve said this before but Tombs is a hit or miss band for me. I get what they do, I respect what they do, but it doesn’t always grab me the way Winter Hours and “Gossamer” in particular first did when I discovered the band back in 2009/2010. That said, Under Sullen Skies grabs me. Their most concise and precise record to date, Under Sullen Skies is the one that finally captures Tombs’ more dynamic and experimental moments (The All Empires Fall EP especially comes to mind) and expertly fuses it to their original take on Black Metal.
But I digress.
“Bone Furnace” is brutal and vicious at the onset of the record as this epitome of sonic destruction lays the groundwork for what’s to come throughout Under Sullen Skies. After that initial blast from drummer Justin Spaeth and guitarists Mike Hill and Matt Medeiros, “Bone Furnace” eases into a thumper with grinding guitar tones as Hill hovers over all with a commanding presence and his distinctive bark that he’s perfected so well over the years.
“Void Constellation” delves into Thrash territory with a singular guitar attack from Hill and Medeiros and badass bass reverberations from Drew Murphy which are all capped off by a haunting guitar solo from Andy Thomas of Black Crown Initiate (And formerly of Tombs).
“Barren” goes all in with the blast beats by Spaeth and ALL the Black Metal vibes while “The Hunger” starts with some eerie synths before heading into a grinding stomp, accented by vocals from Integrity’s Dwid Hellion sounding especially Lemmy-like and Hill’s clean passages to give this track a really unique sound within the heavy framework of the album.
“Secrets Of The Black Sun” is easily a stand out, delving into that more experimental territory we mentioned and almost sounding like a lost Type O Negative gloomer (Think “Suspended In Dusk”) with help from Sera Timms (Ides Of Gemini) on vocals to give this seven minute brooding behemoth an ethereal feel.
“Descensum” gets back into the dirt as one of the most vigorous and vital modern Tombs tracks with tempo changes abound to keep listeners constantly on their toes while “We Move Like Phantoms” is a ripper of an instrumental interlude before Spaeth and Murphy’s resounding rhythmic rumbles pave the way for a beastly Hill screech and soloing from Psycroptic’s Todd Stern on “Mordum”.
“Lex Talionis” sounds like the greatest Slayer track never recorded and later, Cat Cabral delivers an ominous spoken word to start off “Angel Of Darkness” which then just goes off the rails and absolutely tears it up for a relentless amount of time before switching it up to a slower stomp for the finish.
“Sombre Ruin” is pure Gothic majesty with Spaeth laying down echoed Doom greatness on the drums amidst howls from wolves and Hill and then “Plague Years” continues along that soundscape before Hill and Medeiros bring the Speed Metal with their guitars to completely change the tone into something far more fierce until a final movement which drops the pace and then exits just as gloomy and doomy as it began.
Under Sullen Skies arrives via Season Of Mist on November 20th. Pre-orders are up now and can be perused, pre-saved, and purchased by heading here or here. For the latest on Tombs, follow them across the information superhighway by clicking here, here, or here.