Brooklyn is experiencing quite the revival when it comes to heavy music. Or maybe it’s just that people outside of NYC are taking notice again. Hardcore and metal have always thrived in The Rotten Apple in the face of trends, with bands like Batillus and So Hideous My Love receiving a lot of attention of late. On all the up and comers, Tombs are definitely one of the biggest Brooklyn success stories. Since their inception in 2007, their EP on singer/guitarist Mike Hill’s Black Box Recording has sold out a couple of pressings and last year’s split 12” with German metal merchants Planks continues to sell briskly, especially on the heels of their tour with Isis and Pelican.
All these factors have heightened the anticipation for a full-length. The new record is called Winter Hours and its aptly named. There is very little that is light here, whether it be tonally or texturally, but what did you really expect? They are a metal band from Brooklyn called Tombs, and on Relapse, no less. Mike Hill and company make a fearsome noise that will take your ears prisoner and do very bad things to them. The trio sounds a lot like Neurosis doing their favorite Black Flag tunes at Swans tempos. While drums (and your ears) are given very little respite over the ten tracks, Tombs remain decidedly monolithic regardless of the tempo, hell-bent on crushing anything in their path. After the almost six-minutes of caustic sound the opening "Gossamer" subjects you to, the opening of "Golden" pummels you from the drop before adding insult to injury and getting even heavier. And you’re not even at track three yet, so strap on in.
Caustic tones are the order of the day on Winter Hours. Tracks like "Filled With Secrets" are brash and excoriating with very little in the way of mercy for your eardrums. "Merrimack" is a departure of sorts, using smoother tones to invoke a Jesu/Isis feel. In fact, a lot of the quieter moments on Winter Hours recall Justin Broderick, especially the end of "Filled With Secrets". It sets up the epic "Seven Stars The Angel Of Death" like a jab to your chest setting up a right cross to your face, but you’ll like it anyway. While Winter Hours is staunchly abrasive, if you listen closely, there are definite filigrees of melody throughout. Little sonic oases like "The Great Silence" offer small periods of respite with clean guitar and more atmospheric tones, but this is not a record for the faint of heart. Winter Hours is definitely not going to be the soundtrack for your next holiday gathering. Unless you’re perhaps a member of the Manson family.