Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance (Cover Artwork)

Tomb Mold

Planetary Clairvoyance (2019)

20 Buck Spin

Toronto’s Tomb Mold have been a very busy band in the last few years. They formed in 2015 and since then, have released 3 LP’s in the last 3 years. That might sound a bit concerning initially. A 4-year old band with 3 albums (and an EP) to their name? You could be forgiven for asking questions about quality control. I suspect you might feel less inclined to do so after you listen to this latest release.

I first became familiar with Tomb Mold only last year, just before their second album Manor of Infinite Forms was released and I have to say I was very impressed. Their music is firmly in the category of death metal, but there was something bafflingly accessible about them even then. Fast forward another year and here we are with their third record, Planetary Clairvoyance. Has there been room for development in the last year? Does the short gestation period make itself apparent? It’s almost hard to answer these questions as there seems to be no outward sign whatsoever (beyond the basic mechanics of the spacetime continuum) that this record has come along so quickly after its predecessor, frankly.

In case you were still thinking about my earlier comment re: accessibility, then don’t misunderstand me; this record is still incredibly heavy. Tomb Mold have an oppressive, pummelling approach to their craft. They can launch immediately into a song and you’ll feel overwhelmed by it. Take “Infinite Resurrection” for example. The song begins and the whole unit flies into the track, sweeping you up in the tsunami of their sound. But there’s more to it than that. By 90 seconds in, you’ve been through different phases, riffs, fills and subtleties that you might not associate with the genre and that you were unlikely to expect in such a short time, certainly. The title track on the other hand, though equally heavy and possessing of a real Motorhead/High on Fire punk-metal clatter, has some of the most swinging and (dare I say it) catchy hooks I’ve heard in death metal in a very long time. All of this while still refusing to sit still for more than 20 seconds at a time. There is extraordinary dexterity on display from the whole band, that cannot be denied.

The production of the record is something that simply must be remarked on as well. When listened to on a sufficiently good sound system or pair of headphones, it really cannot be faulted when considering the nature of the record. It somehow manages to feel simultaneously cavernous and claustrophobic, bludgeoning yet imbued with nuance. Also, for the death metal naysayers, there is even an experimental palate-cleanser in the form of “Phosphorene Ultimate” which sits immediately after the one-two punch of the opening pair of blistering tracks. It’s a track that relies on unsettling samples, sinister arpeggios and discordant synthesised backdrops to conjure a truly disquieting ambience, but one that adds another distinct dimension to the rest of the album’s approach to achieving a similar goal.

I don’t know if it’s the fire in the belly of a young, prolific band, the avalanche of groove-driven riffs that sit within these songs, the masterful production, the sense of a band succeeding in their experiments or something I’m yet to put my finger on, but the overall impact and result of this album is stunning. It feels wild yet controlled, brutal but composed. And above all else, the songs absolutely rip.