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Friday, April 20, 2012

Album Review: Tombstones – Year Of The Burial

Hailing from Norway, Tombstones refer to their music as Norweedian Doom which doesn’t give you much of a clue to quite how dark and dirty they are actually prepared to get. They are purveyors of chillingly doomy, stoner-riddled sludge. They roll around in the stuff releasing noxious emissions left, right and centre.

Following the unleashing of Volumes I and II, Year Of The Burial is their third album in four years, so they aren’t slow in dishing out slabs of bollock-jangling power and this is like listening to Acid King meets Acid Witch with a good dose of Bongzilla’s weighty grunt thrown in.

With dissonance and sustain applied in biblical amounts, each blissed-out down-tuned chord strike gently warps and twists but never quite reveals itself. The qualities of that mile-thick buzz are best heard in the opening long down-strokes of ‘Egypt’, a track that sidesteps from an epic crush into a stone-cold driving groove.

Whether they’re zoning out for the slow burns like ‘Quintessential’ and ‘Unveiling’ or gently chugging along for the rollers like ‘Sabbathian’ or ‘Silent Voice’, that buttock-clenchingly deep buzz rumbles ever onwards; the unstoppable force. It’s a sound that just seems to improve exponentially the higher you wind the volume up. Set it to “deafening roar” if you want to really rattle your windows.

If you suddenly become aware of someone shouting at you, it’s probably not Mrs Haggis from No. 74; rather, it’s the lead vocalist. Sounding like he’s standing alone at the back of some vast cathedral, Bjørn-Viggo Godtland’s cries out to the rafters, summoning forth any and all evil spirits from their hiding places. His crystal-clean wails are strangely stark against such a mucky foreground, and you’d probably be able to understand him, if it weren’t for the lavish amounts of reverb that have been applied. Recorded live in an Oslo studio in the midwinter, it’s the little indiscretions and that sudden contrast that leaves you feeling, wonderfully, like you’ve stumbled on a forbidden, gothic black mass.

Somewhat disappointingly, the tracks do all seem to blur into each other after a while, but the stoner swagger of the title-track is a solid attention-grabber. It steps up the pace to awaken the guitars from their reverie and, as they cough out malignant riffs, Godtland drops pitch to a sneer and spits forth black wads of dread. Venomous and bristling with murderous intention, it’s a vaguely-cosmic, grim venture into yet more dark corners.

At a miserly 39 minutes, it does feel a little short. It takes that long to settle into the sluggish pace of the songs, so all too quickly you stumble on the classic denouement, ‘Sabbathian’. It features a steadily hammering chug-and-chant that carves its way through, predictably sourcing the creator of heavy music for one last heavy-lidded, disembodied ramble down the dark path. Strangely, it’s the perfect finale for an album that, by beginning slowly and ending with plenty of bang, serves as a fitting tribute to glorious doom in all its multiple forms.

Also online @ Ave Noctum =  http://www.avenoctum.com/2012/04/tombstones-year-of-the-burial-soulseller-records/
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