When you say you listen to doom metal, you can pretty accurately guess the reactions people will have because of all the tropes that go along with the genre. Most often people assume you’re a stoner, or at the very least, a boozer. While only partially true (I love a good beer), doom metal has been a haven for me ever since I started listening to Candlemass. Yes, doom metal is a very long-winded genre with most tracks averaging at least 8 minutes. Yes, doom metal is depressing (what the hell did you expect exactly?). Yes, it has guitars that are thicker and sludgier than in any other genre, but that’s what makes doom metal so appealing. It has an epic scope musically as well as an introverted attitude. As a genre it doesn’t get a hell of a lot of attention. Black Tomb is a band which sticks close to the schema of traditional doom, but it couldn’t be doom without being doom! Sometimes heritage trumps originality.
First off, I liked the album, it was a solid piece of music that lasted just to the point of tolerance, about fifty minutes worth of chugging. It’s hefty- the guitars are like molasses; slow, thick, and heavy, and the riffs build to some pretty solid melodies too. Each song lasts at least a good five to six minutes with a couple topping out at over nine minutes. That’s enough time to really get deep into the music. The riffs and melodies might not be complicated but they are solid and entertaining. That’s all we really need from music sometimes. While nothing is overly spectacular, everything done is done well.
The only problem is the vocals sound a bit unbalanced every once in a while. In doom metal, the vocals can range from growls to operatic and everything in between. There’s an art to knowing where and when what suits. Black Tomb has a lot of death metal influences. I could even make out a few riffs that sounded like tributes to Morbid Angel’s “Blessed Are the Sick” here and there and I think that’s where the vocal style stemmed from. Most of the time the vocals are good, solid and in rhythm with the music, but every now and then they get reduced to hardcore yelling and it grates against the sound of the music. Like I said it was only here and there but every time it happened I was taken out of the music (I really don’t like hardcore music at all).
The album has some good production. It’s not too clean nor is it too rusty, it has the right amount of fuzz but not so much it overshadows the rest of the music. There’s not a lot of atmosphere, somewhat uncommon in the doom metal that I really like, but there is just enough to make the music feel like it’s not dead from a speaker, but live through the air, which is all I really want from my music.
All in all, it’s a solid album even if it doesn’t stray too far from a lot of the doom metal clichés. Black Tomb does what they do well. They pay a lot of homage to their influences in the music, story, and artwork, and I hope in the future, if there is to be one, that they create their own take on doom metal rather than imitate what’s come before in the genre. Overall, I think this would be a fair addition to my doom collection.
Listen and support!