Wednesday, 4 July 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Tomb Mold, "Manor of Infinite Forms"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 08/06/2018
Label: 20 Buck Spin

“…through sheer inertia and boundless enthusiasm, Tomb Mold have gone from impressive acolytes to new standard bearers in death metal.”

“Manor of Infinite Forms” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Manor of Infinite Forms
2. Blood Mirror
3. Abysswalker
4. Final Struggle of Selves
5. Gored Embrace (Confronting Biodegredation)
6. Chamber of Sacred Ootheca
7. Two Worlds Become One

The Review:

If past years have been hallmarks for North Amercian black metal, North American doom, North American sludge and the various permutations, 2018 may be a new high water mark for underground North American Death Metal.  While the stalwarts of the genre have bounced back some in recent years, the current class of death metal freshmen have been conjuring albums that are among the best the genre has ever unleashed.  Genocide Pact, Gatecreeper, and Of Feather and Bone are putting out some of the balls to the wall best metal in the US of rotten A, while Canada’s Tomb Mold has, with “Manor of Infinite Forms”, crafted a contender for personal favorite of 2018.  Indebted to genre legends but forging its own unholy amalgam of complex riffs and memorable hooks, Tomb Mold have a massive slab with their second full-length and debut on 20 Buck Spin.

Primary songwriter and guitarist Derrick Vella loads the title track with snaky, infectious leads.  Drummer/vocalist Max Klebanoff pulls off remarkable kitwork that runs the gamut from headspinning blasts to punky gallops, with some remarkable fills thrown in for good measure.  While Tomb Mold borders on progressive death metal, and the leads have a refreshing level of clarity (shred worshipers will have two new icons with Vella and second guitarist Payson Power), there is a stomach churning element of crusty decay seeping through the shimmering technical prowess.  When the bridge of “Blood Mirror” slows to a crawl, then gradually ratchets back to midtempo bashing, it’s pure Neanderthal magic. “Final Struggle of Selves” is a perfect martial anthem for the ignorant orcs out there, with a solid, dirty bassline that highlights the sonic balance the quartet has mastered: high leads anchored by thick low end.

Can I mention the remarkable storytelling on display here?  Because Tomb Mold’s wicked lyrical descriptions are cosmic horror that I generally have to turn to Lovecraft or Ligotti or Kiernan to approximate.  The denizens of the Tomb Mold universe inhabit dead planets, unholy underworld dominions, infected by unimaginable decay and contemplating sheer nihilistic terrors.  Chamber of Sacred Ootheca”, a vicious chugging assault loaded with chaotic guitar work, also has some truly harrowing imagery: “Harness the cosmos from within / This hidden planet / Awaken / Reanimate the remaining petrified / Realign the signals / Usher in the age of universal torment / Hear the calls”.  Klebanoff’s vocal placement in the mix is perfect – just distant enough to be eerie, but also intelligible (with a lyric sheet firmly in hand anyway).  Album closer “Two Worlds Become One” acts as a perfect apotheosis for the Canadian wizards.  Vella displays his prog bona fides with a haunting classical guitar intro, before delving into a nightmare tale of demonic ascension.  Vella and Power craft sinister harmonies, Musgrave lays out precise bass work, and Klebanoff’s maniac drumming and curdled screams elevate the 8 minute closer to genuine epic status. 

It’s hard to describe why it all works so well.  There are homages to Finnish death metal (like the weird, wonderful Demilich) running through Tomb Mold’s oeuvre, as well as a general obsession with horror fantasy imagery that is fully realized and rarely clich√©.  What I’ve gathered from Tomb Mold is total sincerity – these guys put out tons of songs in two short years because they are in love with this brutal, old school, gnarly, weirdly catchy riff-oriented metal.  It shows on all their prior releases.  But with “Manor of Infinite Forms” they’ve broken through to a new level.  Maybe it’s the addition of Power and Musgrave on their first full-length (all work prior to “Cryptic Transmissions” was recorded as a two-piece).  Maybe it’s the step up in production.  But I think it’s also that through sheer inertia and boundless enthusiasm, Tomb Mold have gone from impressive acolytes to new standard bearers in death metal.  With the pace of their output and the abundance of riffs they seem to have on hand, there is a wide, dark universe these guys can explore for decades to come.  I think, somehow, this is only the first phase of a stellar discography.

“Manor of Infinite Forms” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook