Review Summary: A true contender for Metal album of the year.
During an occultation whereby the moon obscures the sun, it casts a shadow on the Earth - A so called ‘Channel of Darkness’ or The path of totality, Tombs reflect this process perfectly on album number three (four if you count 2010’s Fear is a Weapon compilation of older material).
Tombs are a 3-piece from Brooklyn, USA that play could largely be categorised as Experimental Post Metal/Sludge, and if your looking a reference point then look no further than Neurosis.
Path of Totality is a sprawling, twisting, pummelling and intense 57 minute album, but one that has its fair share of balance. Tombs showcase a melodic side in sections of songs that almost include actual singing before often transforming themselves through passages of wretched sludge infested black metal. Its the weaving sections of melody and Swans like vocals at times that accentuate the brutal parts.
Tombs are a very talented bunch of musicians, and whilst Winter Hours was a brilliant mix of Post Metal/Sludge songs, they wanted to up the ante, so they enlisted the production services of John Congleton who was at the helm for Baroness’ Blue Record, Congleton has guided this band towards making a well rounded, at times frantic, yet restrained record that really flows like an ugly, churning uncomfortable beast of Experimental Metal.
The atmosphere and angular song structures of Ulcerate are really prevalent here, and whilst Tombs never really delve into the depths of Death Metal vocally, there are some Black Metal shrieks and pummelling blast beats amongst a number of tracks, which never outstay their welcome (the longest clocking in at 6.46). The drumming itself is a highlight and the centrepiece on a number of tracks and whilst Tombs are different stylistically to Isis, there is a certain In The Absence of Truth feel to some of the drumming and a definite Oceanic feel to some of the guitar riffs, and Clifford Meyer (Isis, Red Sparowes) provided synths for some of the tracks as well.
While I can really reference a number of bands, that would be rather misleading as Path of Totality is unique in its delivery and intelligent in its message. Lyrically there are themes like the apocalypse, religion and reflections on death. There are also many references to the Book of Revelations as a source of imagery and its really the imagery that Tombs have portrayed on Path of Totality that is rare in Metal nowadays.
A true contender for Metal album of the year.