In another example of the hype matching reality, Brooklyn's TOMBS have created a monster with Relapse debut, "Winter Hours". The whole noise-meets-shoegaze-meets-pummel thing does not always work for me (usually because one aspect is pushed to the front at the expense of another, resulting in a watered-down effect). But once in a while a band finds the illusive G-spot; the puzzle blowing up, then the pieces falling into place again. On "Winter Hours", TOMBS has gone a long way toward locating that elusive and mysterious part of the musical anatomy.As much as I hate to mention what is probably the most overused reference point in music journalism any time a band is even remotely unconventional in structure and hypnotic in feeling, there is an underlying NEUROSIS quality to "Winter Hours". Just like there is a flowing ISIS vibe. But that is mainly because of the space-dust that covers everything (not to mention the atmospheric guitar lines that ring out on an instrumental interlude like "Story of a Room"). Yet this is no exercise is marathon atmospherics, nor is it a cure for insomnia. At 37 minutes in length, "Winter Hours" is far more about the heavy and crushes with the weight of a bull elephant stampede, never taking a detour into nowhere land. Songs like "Beneath the Toxic Jungle" is equal parts blast beaten intensity and black metal-tinged tremolo-picked guitar melody. The guitar work approaches the dissonant at times, but never reaches too far for it, as exemplified by "Golden Eyes", a song that moves between extreme punishment and steady bulldoze. In fact, there are just as many moments that attack with the weight of a HIGH ON FIRE or even a LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR, the combination of all facets (the blackened, the sludge-o-pheric, the blasting) probably best evidenced on "Filled with Secrets". The organic drumming of Justin Ennis is just plain thunderous — his is the engine that really drives the arrangements. Yes indeed, TOMBS drives the nail with one mighty blow of the hammer. "Winter Hours" is not indicative of a band that has hit its peak; there is plenty of room to expand and perfect the craft. TOMBS' opening salvo is an impressive one though. Imagine the possibilities for the next release.
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