BROOKLYN, NY—Metal bands tend to go for names that embody the dark aesthetic that coincides with the genre; Autopsy and Morbid Angel are perfect examples of this. Some even go as far as to create a new word to represent their Miltonic attempts at recreating how hostile metal can be. However, aside from the aforementioned outfits, few ever really come close to exuding and perpetuating the very mood and attitude that is so vital to the more extreme forms of heavy metal. Tombs, on the other hand, are true mavens of cultivating a compellingly dark atmosphere without having it collapse into humorous pile of misplaced influences and self-mockery.
Their sound lurches, churns and heaves like the very best of Autopsy and it stays that way just long enough to get under your skin before exploding into blast-beat and tremolo-picked sections that would have most black metal fans wondering whether these guys are really from Brooklyn or if they are Scandinavian immigrants in disguise. The Brooklyn-based trio lit up Saint Vitus Bar, a newly opened venue in their neighborhood, with their unique and bombastic blend of doom, sludge, grindcore and black metal with a hint of shoegaze.
Tombs’ performance, as whole, was nothing short of boisterous, but bassist Carson James really stole the show for me. Carson may just have the best bass tone I’ve heard in a very long time. It’s thick and fuzzy enough to lay on like your favorite couch, but it has a magnificent snarl at the end that is reminiscent of early Venom, no doubt achieved through the usage of a pick rather than traditional finger style. As a three-piece band, it’s important that each instrument pulls its weight, but Carson’s bass work did that and then some.
Drummer Andrew Hernandez is maniacal behind the kit. I’m convinced he’s some sort of human and octopus hybrid built specifically to destroy drums. When he takes to the kit it’s as though doom, black metal, sludge and grindcore are fighting to express themselves through the medium of his flailing limbs. His excellent rolls accentuated the slower passages, and even when he was playing at his fastest, nothing was lost in regards to how loud he was. Andrew was uncompromising.
Mike Hill’s guitar tone is as vociferous as his voice. Like many guitarists in extreme metal his tone is exceptionally distorted. But unlike many of his contemporaries, his guitar work isn’t the main focus; rather than attempting to be the eye of the storm he makes the storm that much more dangerous. His slower side revels in machine-like chord sections that excoriate and grind like a mystery meat factory, and when he speeds up one can really hear how Tombs pay homage to, but don’t tastelessly rip off of, their hardcore ancestors.
What made the show so impressive and awesome—aside from the fact that it was free—was the level of dedication that Tombs brought. You could see that for the near hour that they played, their only concern was putting on a great set. Tombs aren’t the sort of band that express how in-the-zone they are by doing flips, forcing banter and asking the audience to buy merchandise. However, their silhouettes did dance, larger than life across the walls that night and they also told the story of how one comes to be such a badass band; by playing hard.