Following their promising self-titled debut and their split with the European band Planks, Tombs drops Winter Hours (their debut for new label Relapse Records) onto an increasingly anticipatory public. Mike Hill (guitarist and vocalist) assembles a new lineup for this album, possibly out of necessity due to attrition or maybe just to possibly add different sounds to the band's palette. In either case, the changes work out for the better because Winter Hours is a triumph for Tombs.
Winter Hours contains powerful moments a plenty (check the opener on the record, "Gossamer", for a good representation) which are subsequently bulwarked with Hill's plaintive, bellowing wail - sounding better than ever actually. The drums on the album sound like they are pounding from some monstrous cavern providing an immense amount of space for the other sounds on the album to occupy; there is not a moment where the instrumentation does not sound big to the point of the album sounding like an avalanche coming out of the speakers. The guitars occupy a great deal of the space, whether they are the focus or not. There are times where there is a great deal of ambient sound and background noise generated by the guitars besides the riffs or melodic lines and then there are times, like in "Golden Eyes" where it sounds like there are hundreds of guitars playing. The bass provides the necessary bottom end to anchor the album down just right.
Winter Hours contains several other memorable moments like "Beneath the Toxic Jungle." The guitars actually drop out of the mix and the bass guitar just rumbles on with the drums; and when the guitars come back as a dual signal note melody, the effect is quite good. The echo laden introduction to "Filled With Secrets" boasts a great tension building part which makes the song. The instrumentals, "Story of a Room" and "Old Dominion," add atmosphere and give a breath to the album that come at just the right times on the record. "Merrimack" is still one of my favorite songs from the band - ever since they first posted it as evidence of new material - as it exemplifies this massive sound, the plaintive vocals, and tension building arrangement present on Winter Hours.
Listening to Winter Hours is an obsession that can be difficult to break; trust me. Tombs give us an album that is thick and uncompromising while still managing to be dynamically diverse; this juxtaposition not only causes the album to not wear on the ears in a way that many heavy records can be such an assault on the senses but also offers enough sweet to the sour. A loud volley across the bough of music this year, and still early in the year at that, Tombs' Winter Hours will surely find its way onto many year end lists.
8.5 / 10
Posted Oct. 25, 2010, 5:33 a.m.
Official press release:Tombs will release a fourteen-track collection of early material, tracks from their split with Planks, and previously unreleased demos this November via Relapse Records. This collection, titled ...
Posted July 30, 2010, 8:51 a.m.
Tombs has announced an August tour with Germany's Planks. Dates are as follows:
Posted April 9, 2009, 3:06 p.m.
Pelican and Tombs have been announced as the opening acts for Isis' recently announced North American headlining tour.
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