Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance (2019)



Country: Canada
Style: Death Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 19 Jul 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives

I hear a lot of good about Tomb Mold. Their second album, Manor of Infinite Forms, featured in a lot of lists of the best of 2018. I was eager to check out album number three. And... I just don't get why they're so adored.

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate this, even though I haven't really been a fan of old school death metal since I was diving off Autopsy and Obituary stages in my Morgoth sweatshirt back in September 1990. It was a new genre back then, extreme and brutal and enticing. However, I didn't stay with it for too long, because there were local bands like Anathema and Paradise Lost inventing doom/death that sounded much more versatile and interesting.

Even now, I prefer melodic death to brutal death and doom/death to both. I appreciate that Tomb Mold are trying to do something different with it and I liked some of what they did here. Just on the opener, Beg for Life, I like how it ramps up the pace a couple of minutes in. I like how it drops into an acoustic section a couple of minutes later. I like how it stays there, even when the vocals and drums kick back in, for a little while.

But, I don't like the muddy production. I don't like the way a late section involves the tempo changing frequently because it loses the groove. Most of all, I don't like the vocals of drummer Max Klebanoff, which seem unvarying not just through this track but through the whole album. I'm not averse to a good death growl, as regular readers will know, but this isn't what I'd call a good death growl. And so, even on the strong song to kick off the album, I like a lot of it and dislike a lot of it.

The same goes for the rest of the seven tracks on offer. I appreciate how a number of them feature samples or created effects to vary the sound. There's a three minute interlude called Phosphorene Ultimate, quiet noodling with a staticky communication of some description over it, that's neatly cinematic, but I don't know why it's there. The same goes for the two minute outro to Heat Death and the album, which I presume is supposed to be the universe in a downward spiral through some celestial drain. It's all interesting on the first time through but it gets old really quickly.

Given that I tend to look for different sounds even in my death metal, it's odd to say that my favourite parts of this album are the fast ones. While I can't say the production helps them, the band really know how to kick it up on songs like Infinite Resurrection and Cerulean Salvation. I found myself engrossed in the music on these tracks, because it has ambition and energy and, as far as the production allows us to tell, it's tight. I found myself wishing that the album was instrumental so I could hear more of that.

It's only because there are so many instrumental sections that I considered a 7/10 but the vocals bounce it right back down to 6/10. I've listened four or five times through and I'm just not grokking it. Maybe I need to catch a gig sometime and see how they sound live.

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