TOMBS - Path of Totality
Relapse Records
Sludge Metal
12 songs (58:42)
Release year: 2011
Relapse Records
Reviewed by Jaime
Sludge metal is always grimy. Filthy. Splattered with layers of sonic dirt that make you want to soap up your ears in some vain attempt to clean them out. Yet New York mob Tombs has, somehow, managed to one up their previous attempt. It's a far rougher affair, and all the more vicious for it. Opener Black Hole of Summer blasts into being before it marches forward in a mostly mid paced stomp, setting boots to faces while To Cross The Land's intro takes the more gradual approach, gradually building itself up and into full head cleaving mode. Taking two massive opening swings is one way to grab someone's attention, and the slightly (and only slightly) less violent Constellations serves as a nice little break from the melee, and Bloodletters keeps that sort of feeling, trimming down the heavily layered arrangements of the opening salvos and giving the band a bit more breathing room and listeners a bit more time to recover. Some of the nuances, especially in the drumming, manage to punch through thanks to this.

The title track starts off with a little twist, throwing out hints that the band are going to take another slow burning intro before suddenly closing in and hammering away with body blows, but the band seems to slow down nearer the end and while Vermillion's first swing is strong there's a sense of fatigue that's settled in, and Passageways takes full advantage of that as the band suddenly seem to chill the fuck out, even when things get a bit heavier in the middle. A well placed track for sure, and it makes the almost goth sounding Silent World seem slightly less out of place with it's almost cheery riffs and reverb drenched vocals. An interesting little mix up, and the post rock/metal influences are a bit more apparent in the riffs of Cold Dark Eyes, which seems have a bit more grandeur to it, the band's second wind occurring in full if you'll allow the boxing theme that's managed to seep into the review to continue. It has sweeping riffs that soar mingling with crusty, low end rumbles that all culminate in an epic finale that'd have been a perfect album ender to be quite honest. But the band is hardly done. Black Heaven has some serious Jesu worship propping up the band's core sound which is no bad thing at all, while Red Shadows revisits the beginning of the album with its initial assault, and maintains that aggression even when things slow down a tad, with the outro being akin to a full force straight to the jaw. Finally there's Angel of Destruction, which sadly doesn't finish of things the way that Cold Dark Eyes or even Red Shadows could have, but once things kick off for a whole 10 seconds it gets a little more interesting, but ending on the slightly ambient soundscape vibe doesn't do the rest of the album much justice.

There's a surprising amount on this album that can go easily unnoticed. One of which is the drumming, which may just seem like a mixture of blastbeats and punk rhythms but there are so many little additions, little rhythmic twists and accidentals that are woven throughout Path of Totality in its entirety that it would be a massive disservice to just listen to the album once on a passing whim. Give it your time and your ears and you'll not go unrewarded. The rough sounding production helps in all the right ways too, and while there are one or two tracks that don't rise to the level of the rest one can't help but applaud the band for producing something that's just so... heavy.
Killing Songs :
Pretty much all of them, excluding Vermillion and Angel of Destruction
Jaime quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by TOMBS that we have reviewed:
TOMBS - Savage Gold reviewed by Andy and quoted 82 / 100
TOMBS - Winter Hours reviewed by Phil and quoted 86 / 100
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