Tombs arise yet again from the black metal hotbed that is Brooklyn for their fifth full length foray Under Sullen Skies. Founding member Mike Hill returns with the lineup that debuted on their Monarchy of Shadows EP earlier this year and the band appears to have scaled back the post metal side of things. How have they built upon that foundation for this release?
“Void Constellation” is a solid modern black metal track with a slow opening which gives way to pounding drums but maintains the slow drag through your mind, definitely an atmosphere of uneasiness throughout. “Barren” has an ending that is quite beautiful and recalls some of the band’s best material from the earlier albums.
“Mordrum” works well with the interplay of the drums, guitars and vocals and the work of the guitars here is relatively subtle but adds that little bit of panache and pops upon several listens. The use of pinch harmonics on the solo give a touch of classic heavy metal while the song retains much of their blackened doom of sorts.
There is a lot to like about Under Sullen Skies. However, the album suffers a bit from many good ideas and a very long run time that effectively holds back some of the best parts of the album. An hour is difficult to manage as these songs are not exactly slow builders, they make great use of spurts of energy to pace out the slower sections. There is no need for some of these songs to top 6 and 7 minutes. Their omission might well have done this album some good.
If Tombs were already on your radar then this album will be one you come back to time and again. But if this is your introduction, maybe look back to Path To Totality and Savage Gold instead. Under Sullen Skies is solid black metal with just a bit too much length.
(released November 20, 2020 on Season Of Mist)
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Watch Tombs – “The Hunger” Video