March 25, 2009

CD Review: Tombs - Winter Hours

"Hi! We are a band called Tombs, although we would just be happy if you think of us in the same breath as Neurosis. After all, we are trying to be like them and mimic their sound with just a few changes so we can be 'different.' Thanks for listening!"

No, that is not a quote from the band; nor is it me trying to put words in their mouths. It is the impression that I get as I glance through some of the reviews written about the band. Still, most seem to agree that they are not purely a Neurosis clone as they attempt to embark in different directions, incorporating more imagination and distinctive elements to move off in new directions.

You know, if I was more up on Neurosis I think I would be going down that road as well. Unfortunately, my sole experience with Neurosis came back in the late nineties when they were touring as the opening act (along with Hatebreed) for Soulfly. At this time, I liked music, but cannot say I was as well-versed then as I am now, so when Neurosis brought their post-metal sound to the stage, complete with freaky light show, I did not know what to think of them and have not really paid them any mind since. Perhaps I should try them again.

tombs1All of this simply means that when I hear Tombs I have some vague memories of Neurosis stirred up, but that is all. As for Tombs, I must say that I am awfully impressed. No, it is not the greatest music I have ever heard nor did it come across as any sort of earth shattering revelation. It arrived at my ears as something fresh, different and well worth my time.

This is post-metal that incorporates all manner of sounds into its tapestry of sound. I heard thrash, hardcore, ambient, death, all woven into something that was none of those things at all. Tombs' sound is akin to a reverse prism, taking all the colors of the rainbow and reintegrating them into white light, so Tombs takes the varying styles of metal and integrates them into one big post-metal wall of sound.

In a scant 37-minutes, Tombs takes us on a journey of dense, ambient compositions that stand alone as single songs as easily as they do an entire album, flowing like a tidal wave through the air before crashing just before your ears, allowing the open ambiance lick at your ears, hypnotic and inviting. Winter Hours has a sentience all of its own, knowing just how far the sound can take you, not pushing the limits and never becoming boring.

This trio, led by vocalist/guitarist Mike Hill, is something to behold. They do not allow themselves to be trapped by convention. From the moment "Gossamer" began to play, I knew I was not in for a typical ride. The driving drums, the incessant forward motion just carries you along through each track.

Bottomline. This is a fascinating album, one that has much to offer; whether you are looking to study nuance in the breakdown of metal conventions, or if you just want to float along on the heavy ambiance, you will be left satisfied. This is an album to spend some quality time with, just as this band is one to keep your eyes on. I do not feel they are anywhere near the best of musicians, but they are very strong songwriters using each note to great effect.



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