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Tombs - Monarchy of Shadows Award winner

Monarchy of Shadows
by Chris Hawkins at 17 March 2020, 9:36 PM

Currently, the Metal community, particularly the underground, is teeming with bands vying for their place in the spotlight.  Most likely due to the rise of social media and proliferation of the world wide web, genre lines have become like check points patrolled by paramilitary forces who ensure they are devoid of crossings.  Everything is driven by services such as Spotify and Pandora that, while useful in helping listeners find new music to check out, operate under algorithms that limit what one is exposed to.  TOMBS is a band that is sailing against that very confining current, a band unafraid of cross pollination, and thus, one of the most provocative bands operating in the scene right now.  Perhaps if it is in their blood.  After all, they are from one of the most fertile areas for underground Metal, Brooklyn, NY, home of some of the most iconic artists like CARNIVORE, TYPE O NEGATIVE, and LIFE OF AGONY.  The band has four full lengths under its belt and recently released a new EP via new label home Season of Mist.  Six tracks in length, “Monarchy of Shadows” is lean and mean offering a glimpse at a band that has refined their already lethal sound.

The title track leads things off with a very “Funeral Moon”-like feel.  The interplay between clean and more Black Metal-style vocals during the blasting superbly increases the song’s intensity.  The interlude allows the song to breathe and sets up a very gloomy, dreamy Gothic Doom, driving riff.  “Necro Alchemy,” the third track is appropriately named for it is the most tenacious track of the EP.  TOMBS deliver a deadly breakdown toward the latter part that begins with an explosive SUPERJOINT RITUAL-sounding mosh part and progresses to an INTERNAL BLEEDING-style chromatic stomp.  The following track, “Man Behind the Sun,” shows the bands more Doom tendencies.  Overall, Black Metal mixed with groove-oriented Death Metal and sorrowful Gothic-tinged mid-era Peaceville Three lamentations equals an album full of memorable parts incorporating staunchly different styles that blend so well together.

The guitar sound employed is perfect, a blend of modern Metal high-gain aggression, pristine definition, and finely dialed-in blackened tone.  With such a wide girth, the band can properly dress any musical idea from a dirge to a maniacal blasting death charge.  The bass tone is raunchy and crunchy giving the songs a raw Dan Lilker-meets-Peter Steele vibe.  It gives the music an even more convincing abrasive quality, a raw edge that really slices through the mix combined with the raging percussion.  The vocals here truly seal the deal.  This is simply because there is so much variety offered from the raspy-throated grime to mournful sorrow invoked.  Seeing TOMBS live solidified my admiration for them.  The atmosphere created on recordings is given a more human, intimate breath in the live setting.  Seeing them play last year’s Decibel Beer and Metal Festival in Philly was a most Metal experience.

The objective here is not to portray a band that just sounds cool because they happened to mix ingredients the right way.  Rather, TOMBS has taken influences from across a vast expanse of real estate incorporating them into a very personal style.  “Monarchy of Shadows” truly is one of the most exciting recordings I’ve yet heard this year with its engrossing appeal and innovative style.  To miss out on this would be detrimental – seriously!

Songwriting:  9
Originality:  9
Memorability:  9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Monarchy of Shadows
2. Once Falls the Guillotine
3. Necro Alchemy
4. Man Behind the Sun
5. The Dark Rift
6. Path of Totality (Midnight Sun)
Mike Hill – Guitars, Vocals
Drew Murphy – Bass, Backing Vocals
Justin Spaeth – Drums, Samples
Matt Medeiros – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Season of Mist


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Edited 27 January 2023

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