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T.O.M.B.- Terror Winds

Terror Winds
by SJ Loschi at 25 December 2022, 3:46 AM

T.O.M.B. (Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemers) are a noisy, industrial old-school black metal band hailing from the hills of Pennsylvania.  They’ve been recording their take on the dark side of the human spirit for the better part of two decades.  “Terror Winds” is their seventh full-length release.  It’s an album steeped in the mud of its early ‘90s forebears: the production is trashy, minimal and mesmerizing; the drums flail about as if hanging from the entrails of the dead; ambient passages of noise build bridges from one pile of aural bodies to the next; and thirty-three minutes later you feel like wiping the slime off your body as you enter a state of anxiety-fueled shock, rising to the surface for air. But you’ll never actually reach the surface:  “Terror Winds” is the sound of that last gulp of water filling your lungs before you sink into death.

The earliest black metal artists were the embodiment of this nihilistic drowning: the music was about deconstructing what was acceptable as ‘popular’ music just as much as it was about pushing the boundaries of heavy metal. It was ready to hold the head of what was acceptable in music underwater until the whole thing stopped breathing. The at-home production left everything sounding deliberately dirty and dark. The screeching vocals were as extreme an approach to recording as anything ever put to tape. It was audacious: the less people liked it, the more extreme it came across. It was music made by young men who had all the hope drained from them, and love-hated the physical mass of blood and tissue that was left behind. And, oh yeah, there was always Satan. Everywhere you looked, the devil was waiting patiently with a four-track and some corpse paint.

Terror Winds” sounds as if it was recorded underwater, the crush of the ocean holding you under.  There are tracks where the sound seems to go in and out of phase, a strange blend of the treble-heavy guitars, guttural swells of agony, cheap synth sounds that get lost in waves of noise, and the ever-present clanging of metal against metal that twist and morph around your ears.  The best black metal- be it old school or new- does this: the listener can get lost in the ambience of the intense blackened blasts of guitar, bass and drums.  Second song “Wraiths” is a good example of this.  The guitars start, heavily compressed, as if slowly sinking and rising above the surface of the waves.  The crash of metal pipes, the trashy sounds of a cheap cymbal, a relentless two-chord drone from the guitars over blackened drums, and the song acts as a soundtrack for complete immersion.  There’s no coming up for air.  T.O.M.B. is about celebrating the second act: the one where our bloated bodies, grey and swollen, float to the surface of a deadened sea, until devoured by time. (And sharks.  They’d most likely be devoured by sharks long before time does the dirty work. I mean, let’s be honest.  It’s black metal, but it can’t be completely unhinged from reality, can it?).

The album was recorded live at the Ossuary Recordings in New Jersey. This is a bold move for a black metal band, and this is both the strength of T.O.M.B.’s creative approach as well as a weakness. Sounds tend to wash into one another, and while there’s going to be some bleed-over anytime you record live, it would be interesting to see how much darker these songs would be if there was some separation between all the glorious noise brought by No One’s more experimental approaches and the traditional black metal the band calls home. At times this works: it’s hard to discern on the opening track “Terror Winds” where the guitars and keyboards begin and end, and this makes for an unsettling listening experience.  On the flipside, after thirty minutes it becomes hard to discern one track from another, much less what’s happening at any single moment.

That’s not to say T.O.M.B. hasn’t built on the nihilism laid down by their black metal forebears from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.  While the allegiance to the dark arts is there, and the production is satisfyingly brutal, the noises and destruction wrought by these four artists from the Mid-Atlantic is enough to think that they’ll be forging this unique path to hell for another two decades.  If the blackened corpse of T.O.M.B’s body of work hasn’t floated to the surface yet, in time the whole world will be enveloped in its fetid, water-logged, rancid rock and roll stench.

Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Terror Winds
2. In the Ugly Dark
3. Wraiths
4. Hatred to All
5. Frost Tyrants
6. Reincarnation
No One - Vocals, Samples, Field Recordings
B. Zimimay - Keyboards
Samantha Viola - Guitars
Tyler Butkovsky - Guitars
Record Label: Dark Essence Records


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