Release Date: Jun 10, 2014
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
The past of New York’s Tombs feels, in retrospect, like a working laboratory for the success of Savage Gold, their third album and one of the year’s absolute heavy metal masterstrokes. For the first five years of their existence, Tombs felt undecided, a college kid cycling through survey courses while searching for a major. On a series of EPs, splits and albums, frontman Mike Hill moved through a half-dozen members (he’s now the only extant original) and twice as many modes, dispatching ideas in search of an identity.
It is no longer hyperbolic to say Tombs have gotten better with every album. They have a legitimate streak going, with every release redefining the band's sound. Just as Winterhours was their metalgaze pinnacle and Path of Totality their sludgiest sludge sludge, Savage Gold marks another new direction; this is Tombs at their most post–black metal.
2011’s acclaimed Path of Totality set the bar high, but Tombs prove up to the challenge with Savage Gold, which explores even darker, deeper terrain. The first half of the record is mostly harsh and unrelenting, with doomy segues serving as mere breathers between bouts of Morbid Angelesque punishment. With the more hypnotic “Echoes,” however, Tombs stretch beyond traditional extreme metal with clean vocals and droning guitars.
Though it will undoubtedly seem to some like an evolution, Savage Gold, the newest from Tombs, feels like an endpoint to me. Not for the band, of course; this Brooklyn blackened death group undoubtedly has bigger, brighter (darker?) things ahead of them. Rather, Savage approximates an extreme metal endgame, pushing the music into increasingly intricate, brutal, and downright boring forms.
Tombs Savage Gold (Relapse) Roaring like a pissed-off dinosaur stuck in a tar pit, Tombs eagerly vomits blackened doomsludge on third album Savage Gold. Guitarists Mike Hill and Garett Bussanick grind gothic riffs lathered with the gunk from an overdue oil change, while drummer Andrew Hernandez II beats the unholy crap out of his kit. Hill's asthmatic bellow reduces the libretto to pure paroxysm.