AlbumsNovember 29, 201111,336 views

Tombs Path of Totality

01. Black Hole of Summer 02. To Cross the Land 03. Constellations 04. Bloodletters 05. Path of Totality 06. Vermillion 07. Passageways 08. Silent World 09. Cold Dark Eyes 10. Black Heaven 11. Red Shadows 12. Angel of Destruction
2011 Relapse Records
Our score 9


Brooklyn's Tombs have built quite a reputation in the underground metal scene and among online journalists and reviewers, who have almost universally endorsed the band's filthy combination of black metal and hardcore. And there's good reason for this, as their debut full-length Winter Hours was a fantastic effort that built nicely off their self-titled debut EP and their split effort with Planks (those recordings were culled for last year's Fear Is the Weapon). But well-regarded catalog and thunderous live shows aside, it's questionable what size room the band could fill outside NYC, which shouldn't be taken as a comment for how good the band is. The Black Eyed Peas play fucking stadiums, so there goes the dissolution of "audience size = quality" argument. Winter Hours seemed to be an album that would really break the band – vocalist/guitarist Mike Hill, bassist Carson Daniel James, drummer Andrew Hernandez – but it didn't seem get them the notoriety and success it should have. Now comes along their second full-length Path of Totality, a 12-track, volcanic effort that keeps in place what their followers have grown to love about the band but also expands their sound and fully fleshes out their capabilities. In fact, the album is so good that Winter Hours now kind of pales in comparison, which is what you want from a band that is still growing into their artistic form and really is still just at the beginning of their run. So maybe we should settle down about what kind of crowd they can draw right now and instead focus on what really matters – their music. The album kicks off in true Tombs style, with "Black Hole of Summer" settling into a shoegazey, choppy black metal assault, with Hill howling, "Chaos reigns!" "To Cross the Land," doomy instrumental "Constellations" and slow-driving "Bloodletters" also will feel familiar, but then the album changes. Starting with "Vermillion," a dark, gothic haze comes over the album, with Hill taking on a more warbling, deep style of vocals, nearly in the same vein as Type O Negative's late leader Peter Steele and Tom Gabriel Fischer. In fact, tracks such as "Passageways," "Silent World" and "Black Heaven" sound influenced by Celtic Frost's early albums, and somehow the Tombs' material becomes even more morbid than before. It's a daring avenue to take, but one that pays off and gives "Path of Totality" an exciting, ghostly element. The record finishes off with "Red Shadows" and "Angel of Destruction," which both return to form. I'm curious to hear the reaction to Path of Totality, and especially that midsection that finds Tombs delving into previously unchartered areas. That could turn off some people who want their Tombs to be one way and one way only, but chances are, it'll bring more people into the fold when they realize just what this band is capable of achieving. My guess is this record will be one of those you see on a lot of best-of lists come December, because it very much deserves that kind of consideration. This band always had that potential to become one of metal's most interesting and important bands, and Path of Totality proves those premonitions true. This is the record that should swell those crowds, that should contribute to their album sales, that should have them on magazine covers. And even if it doesn't, this record shouldn't be seen as anything less than a triumph, no matter how many listeners realize it. Bottom Line: I've been into Tombs since their debut EP but was always waiting for that watershed moment. Path of Totality is it, and much as I plan to enjoy this album in the meantime, I can't wait to hear what's next.


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