Review Summary: Mild bronze.
Everything seemed to be in Tombs
’ favor upon the announcement of Savage Gold
, what with a recently acclaimed (and dubstep free) sophomore effort, Path of Totality
, as well as seasoned musician/producer Erik Rutan taking up production duties. Yet, despite the promising setup, what Tombs
actually delivered is an album that is inoffensive to a fault; songs so methodical and uneventful that it is difficult to feel any type of strong emotion about them. In essence, neither of the title’s words act as fitting adjectives for the album that they belong to.
The central cause of this stems from a problem that Tombs
initiates and Rutin exacerbates: bland songwriting hindered further by mechanical production. A grand majority of the album sprints by in a blur of instruments that, while technically well played, provide no real emotional depth for the listener to latch on to. But again, the blame also lies with Rutin; neither the black metal nor sludge metal tendencies present are highlighted properly. Instead of raw tremolos and pummeling riffs, the album’s tame guitar tone provides a consistent sense of riskless clarity.
Even the few moments where Tombs
is on point ultimately fizzle out. While the massive build on album opener “Thanatos” provides an excellent primer for the album, the track stumbles with an uninspired midpoint and then stumbles until its conclusion. And when the band conjures sinister auras on “Deathtripper” and “Severed Lies,” vocalist/guitarist Mike Hill enters with a subpar performances that completely detract from the mood. His dead-pan, lifeless delivery is similarly disappointing throughout the rest of the album as well.
What does stand out on this album is the complete lack of atmosphere that is typically characteristic of bands lumped under the post metal banner. Tracks will occasionally enter or exit with a brief, synth-laden passage, but on the whole, Savage Gold
has a distinct lack of musical exploration. Perhaps if Tombs
’ songwriting was more adventurous and Rutin’s production more complimentary, then such a straightforward approach may not have been so uninteresting.
The redundancy of these critiques points to how much potential could have been realized if a few key components had seen some much-needed maintenance. But given the dull and unpolished product put forth on Savage Gold
, it seems as though Tombs
needed an act of alchemy to transform it into gold.