Review: Tombs – “Path of Totality” (Relapse Records)

If you ever had any doubts that city dwellers have no place in the black metal community, you’re wrong and you haven’t heard TOMBSPath of Totality is the second full-length album from this Brooklyn based blackened sludge metal band. That’s right, I said Brooklyn, as in totally not from Europe. If you want to imagine how evil this album sounds, I’d say picture yourself in a nightmare with Dorian Gray and Alistair Crowley, both just casually having late night conversations about the end of humanity set to a scene from Dante’s Inferno. It’s a pretty sinister album. The thundering drumming on this record is authentic, taking off with the savage percussive assaults inspired by black metal titans DARKTHRONE. Wailing guitar tones and well-paced elements of despair were captured masterfully. Both the guitar and the ominous vocals were the responsibility of Mike Hill, who chants his mournfully oppressive lyrical themes all throughout the thoroughly morbid album; any expressions of nice things weren’t invited into the recording studio when John Congleton (Explosions In The Sky, Baroness) produced it. The entire album and architecture of the songwriting is elaborately composed. Everything is paced together to convey a sense of yearning and ascension through build ups followed by climatic suspense and inevitably the pulling percussions slam you right back down into seething dissonance. Like a cascading series of volcanic eruptions, you can merely anticipate where the next measure will take you, only knowing that it is going to be hot. Path of Totality has it all.

RATING: 8 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
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Interview: TOMBS, Mike Hill

Matt Darcy:  Tombs is out on the road in support of the new effort “Path of Totality”, how is
the tour going?

Mike Hill:  The Tour was awesome, probably one of our best as far as small tours go.  Some
shows have been surprisingly well such as Montreal, Chicago and Austin. Of course there
are the occasional clunkers but that is to be expected.

MD:  What has been the general reaction to the new songs?

MH:  So far, people have been really supportive of our new material; we’ve been playing most
of these songs for quite a while now, but I think since Path of Totality has been released,
there’s a certain familiarity now.

MD:  You guys went with John Congleton to record this new effort.  How was working with
him on this project and why did you choose him to work with?

MH:  Congleton is probably the most pro engineer we’ve ever worked with in addition to being
a really cool guy.  Initially, I met him a couple of years ago in Dallas when we were on tour
with Isis and Pelican. A the time, Baroness were recording their new record with him. John
Baizley texted me about getting a few people into the show that night and Congleton was part
of the crew. Over the course of the year, we stayed in touch and I sent him demo’s of our
material as it progressed. When the Blue album came out, we were all blown away by the
sounds on that record so the opportunity to work with Congleton was something we all were

MD:  “Path of Totality” has a more black metal sound to it, can you explain the direction you
guys took to writing and the sound you wanted this time around?

MH:  We were going for a more aggressive vibe on the record. The Black Metal influence has
always been present but with the addition of Andrew on drums, the ability to play faster and
with more intensity allowed the influence to move more to the front and center.

MD:  In late July and into August Tombs will be touring Europe with The Secret, where are
you excited to visit?

MH:  We’re looking forward to getting back to Germany and Scandinavia.  This time around
we’re heading to Ireland which will be a first for us.

MD:  Any plans for after the Europe trek?

MH:  There are some plans for package tours, but nothing is finalized yet.

MD:  Besides music, what other passions/hobbies do you have? 

MH:  I like working out a lot. I do a lot of kettlebells and cardio; running, boxing drills etc.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about “The Singularity” the Ray Kurzweil concept of the
merging of biology and technology.

MD:  Condiments, what is your favorite and why?

MH:  Siracha! You can put it on anything

MD:  Any last words you would like to add?

MH:  We’ll be out on the road a lot this year. Come on out.