TOMBS - Winter Hours
Relapse Records
Post Metal/Doom Core
10 songs (37:03)
Release year: 2009
Relapse Records
Reviewed by Phil

Post-metal/shoegazer is the current metal trend that metalheads don’t really recognize as a trend. Sure, most of us have heard bands like Isis, Pelican and JESU. Hell, the metal press in America has practically shoved these bands down our throats. But I have yet to hear a beered-up metalhead screaming “Iiiiisssisss” at a concert…even when I attended a recent Isis show. Either everybody is listening to these bands and not talking about it, or the bands’ wandering, moody sounds just aren’t inspiring the liquor swilling heshers of the world.

I’m wary of calling Brooklyn, NY’s TOMBS shoegazer metal for two reasons. First, this band has balls. No offense to the bands listed above, but generally a band really has to bring the thunder to catch my attention. And TOMBS newest, Winter Hours, does that in spades. Next, TOMBS actually understand musical brevity. While Winter Hours is an unapologetically artful metal album, every song still manages to clock in at less than six minutes. This is a nice change of pace in a scene where it seems every song is 13 minutes long.

Winter Hours can be split up in to two five-song sections with short instrumental closers ending each. Gossamer is a strong opener that starts with a galloping drumbeat. The echoing riff and busy bass part complement the drums perfectly. After two minutes, the beat changes and a haunting guitar line lilts over the top of a powerful drum breakdown. A small section summons the ghost of Helmet songs past; then the galloping beat reappears and finishes the song. Golden Eyes comes on strong with a near blast beat. A mild black metal flavor is apparent with the frantic riff and screamed vocals, but a blocky riff breakdown keeps the short song interesting. Beneath the Toxic Jungle starts with another blast beat and screamed vocals. It stays fast until the two-minute mark where the song goes almost full-on doom. The slow pace and apocalyptic screams give the section a completely different feel. The vocals disappear, and a lengthy guitar solo ends the tune. The Great Silence starts off with a catchy drumbeat/riff combination; then the song goes in a weird direction rotating High on Fire heaviness with Converge speed core. The final minute of the song absolutely kills with a pummeling, throbbing riff. Lonely instrumental Story of a Room closes out the first half of the album.

After that brief respite, The Divide gets things going with sludgy bass and powerful drumming. Sung vocals slowly give way to growled gruffness. The drums bring a different rhythm for a pretty intense outro. Merrimack may be the most intimate song on the album. It starts at a rumble and builds until a complete drum meltdown crescendos around the two-minute mark. Eventually the drums relent, and the song ends with an open, soaring passage. Filled With Secrets’ first minute and twenty seconds is all ghostly guitars. The song really begins after two minutes with another blast beat and screamed vocals combination. The busy drummer slows for two breakdown choruses in the section, and then the song catches a mid paced groove before slowing to another doom tempo. The drums kick back in and a grumbling, rolling bass part finishes the song. Seven Stars The Angel of Death is a spacious track with a simmering guitar line and emotive vocals. The final minute of the song is made up of 30 seconds of airy guitar and drums; then screamed vocals and building guitars end the song. Old Dominion, another echoing guitar instrumental, ends the album with a whisper.

TOMBS’ first album for Relapse Records is definitely not a disappointment. Even though the band has only been around since 2007, Winter Hours seems like a mature album made by a band in the twilight of their career. I'm interested to listen as their sound continues to morph and develop over the next few years.

Killing Songs :
Gossamer, The Great Silence, Merrimack
Phil quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by TOMBS that we have reviewed:
TOMBS - Savage Gold reviewed by Andy and quoted 82 / 100
TOMBS - Path of Totality reviewed by Jaime and quoted 88 / 100
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