T.O.M.B. – Thin the Veil

Rating: 2.5/5
Distributor/label URL: https://www.darkessencerecords.no
Released: 2020
Buy Album: https://tombnoise.bandcamp.com/album/thin-the-veil
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/totalocculticmechanicalblasphemy/

Band line-up: 

No-One
B. Zimimay
Tyler B
Samantha Viola
Hellhammer
Craig Smilowski
Andy Winter
Duncan McLaren
Maurice De Jong

Tracklisting:

1. No Return
2. Where the Wretched Lurk
3. Pestilence
4. Invocation
5. Thin the Veil
6. Decapitation of the Gods
7. Lunar Reckoning
8. Escape from Phlegethon
9. License to Depart
10. Pure Noise Necromancy
11. Hellmouth

Review:

T.O.M.B. are a black metal band on Dark Essence Records. Since forming over twenty years ago, they have been skilfully crafting their own avant-garde style that fuses ambient, doom, industrial, noise, death and classic black metal elements. Such innovative experimentation has earned the group a strong reputation in modern black metal circles. Their latest album ‘Thin the Veil’ features Hellhammer of Mayhem on drums, as well as collaborations with Craig Smilowski, previously of Immolation and Duncan McLaren of Venom Wolf.

Arguably the most interesting features of this music, are the polychords played by twin distorted guitars. They really do sound colourful in a very grim way, maybe even otherworldly and fascinating at times. ‘Where the Wretched Lurk’ features such ideas from almost start to finish, and you know what? It does sound wretched! An excellent use of musical devices to achieve a rather typical goal. Despite such interesting harmony, things are often kind of bland, partly because many ideas go on and on with little variation. The fusing of styles helps little. The music isn’t messy because of them, and the plentiful ideas don’t really sound rushed for the most part, it’s just that there is little melodic interest. 

The development of the music is far more typical and often lacking in effective build-ups and releases of tensions. Furthermore, many songs have not so strong endings. The album doesn’t end on much of a climax, either. To be fair, there are some ambient ‘breathers’ such as ‘License to Depart’ adding variety, but when such ambience features on top of the more traditional BM instrumentation, it fails to stand out and really add something creative and special. The band have missed an opportunity to do something a little different. You may also be disappointed if you’re looking for the power of ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ era Mayhem. There aren’t really any percussion fills that sound like the drums are 50 foot tall. Rather, expect more raw production that fails to pump the adrenaline or sound evil to the max.

In conclusion, the concept of the album is very interesting. However, it suffers from a lack of catchy hooks, and relies too much on tiring patterns that are often pretty standard for the genre. It would be great if polyrhythms were added to the dual guitars, but instead you get little more than blast beats and tribal thuds. The sometimes croaky ‘singing’ is pretty cool and brings to mind Dead, also from Mayhem, making the release very good for setting a demented mood. Other times the singing is plain raging. If you enjoy the ridiculously lo-fi and pretty straightforward Mayhem album ‘Live in Leipzig’, you probably won’t be put off by Thin The Veil. Just be warned. 

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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