Review Summary: Rotted hymnals of death.
The reason for Tomb Mold's meteoric rise through the echelons of death metal should be self-evident: their blend of cross-continental influences is one we've heard before, but is too tough to pull off for minnows. That's it. All too often, the blurring of lines has given us disjointed mishmashes or dull, grey pastes in which subtleties are completely diluted and obscured. Tomb Mold buck this trend big time on Manor of Infinite Forms
, with nods to a litany of the genre's greats, an absence of clashing ideas, as well as nuance and flair aplenty.
Ditching the more metallic, razor-sharp aesthetic of their debut, Tomb Mold have opted for something more organic, almost pustular, this time around – something that churns and festers, horrifying one with its presence rather than going straight for the jugular. The guitar lines seem to writhe as axemen Payson and Derrick tremolo pick their way though the sonic ooze, desperate not to be crushed under the weight of Max Klebanoff's banzai drumming. These high-octane moments do suffer a tad by way of the copious levels of compression, but Tomb Mold's magic becomes apparent once the drums peel back and allow the riffs to flourish. This isn't to say the violence of the debut has been supplanted, because Manor of Infinite Forms
at its most frenetic is more than a match for its predecessor. There is simply more deliberation in how things progress, reprise and remodel themselves as songs go on now.
Some of the transitional pieces, a la “Final Struggle of Selves”, have a hint of Scream Bloody Gore
and Severed Survival
to them, striking an illusive balance between catchy, syncopated grooves and that early pursuit of extremity. Dissonant intervals in the vein of Adramelech's early work are also plentiful, but aren't omnipresent; the subtlety of their usage contributes to their own potency. The potential tumult is kept on course by riffs with flayed edges, as opposed to being derailed time and time again by phrases desperately trying to evade their tonal centres. Indecipherable though they may be, Max's guttural vocals act as a binding agent in much the same way that John McEntee's mutterings complete Incantation's post-Pillard releases: vital, though nothing spectacular in isolation.
Ultimately, the ace in Tomb Mold's sleeve is song-writing – the method behind the madness. Among the more measured cuts on Manor of Infinite Forms
are the opening title-track and “Abysswalker”, both of which hinge on melodic and easy-to-recall motifs that change their form and function as everything else wreaks havoc around them. On the other hand, “Gored Embrace” and “Chamber of Sacred Ootheca” are more in line with what you'd expect: relentless, irregular and bludgeoning, but as far as the tracks that built up to them are concerned, similarly cohesive. The band manages to mix up their rate of attack without giving the listener any impression of a ceasefire. “Blood Mirror” and “Two World Become One” – the two longest songs – collectively charge forward for fifteen minutes, with tempo changes and midway “breathers” doing little else but to prime you for the final assault.
Manor of Infinite Forms
is rather cosmopolitan in its spiritual origins, mixing the fervour of pre-Gothenburg Swedeath, New York's idiosyncratic machismo, the early Floridian greats' deft sense of groove and the otherworldly, angular melodies of the Finns. Yet despite its convoluted lineage, Manor of Infinite Forms
is, as an entity, anything but. It takes every influence passed down to it, no matter how minor, and works them into its own peculiar and somewhat terrifying gait – origins decipherable upon inspection, but altogether inimitable.