Tombstones – Volume II …   Leave a comment

Coming out of Oslo, Norway is Tombstones, a pure stoner doom band and not your usual face-painted black metal band that you usually hear from that country. It is not as surprising as it first seems however, Norway has a growing doom-scene and the quality of the bands from there is very good indeed. Tombstones has been a band for over 6 years and have shared stages with bands such as Nebula and Witchcraft but haven’t made much of an impact in the underground doom scene as yet. This album produced by the great Billy Anderson should change all that though. Recorded pretty much live and in full, warm and wonderful analog, this album is like having a live-band right there in your living room and if crank this album up you are bound to make your neighbors extremely mad. This album crushes but crushes in subtle Sabbathian grooves rather than overly down-tuned droning. This is an album that requires loud volumes to be fully appreciated as played down low you don’t hear all the dynamics that this band unleashes over the course of 45 hypnotic minutes. Volume II flows in a repetitive way so it is better taken as a complete piece of work than dissecting individual tracks.

The album begins its bong-hopping journey with “Hellfire” which pretty much sums up the sound and vibe of the album in just one song. Their approach is bluesy yet sinister sounding riffs that crawl along within a smokey haze of Sabbath-inspired dirge which only changes in terms of tempos and even then, they just go from slow to even slower. It is so slow and lethargic at times, you constantly get the feeling a track is about to end when it is only halfway through. Along with the obvious Sabbath influence, there is hints of Sleep and Electric Wizard in there but the way the vocals are soaked in reverb gives this an atmosphere all of its own. If you are looking for a band that is a kind of blueprint for stoner-doom, then Tombstones are as good as any. The sound is not original and was done many years before by various bands including the ones I have already mentioned but there is something about this that has pure-classic written all over it. If 100 years from now, there ever becomes classic-doom radio, this is one of the bands they will be playing. After Hellfire confirms the sound of the band loud and clear you are treated to “Distorted Visions” and “Whisper In Darkness,” the latter being one of the albums highlights. This tune is such a slow, grinding slab of doom that it sends a shiver up the spine with its cold atmosphere and its churning evil riffing.

“Further Down The Abyss” and another slower than snail on Quaaludes track titled “Realms Of Oblivion” follows in mesmerizing fashion. It could be argued that some of this is very predictable as they play riffs that sound very familiar but when you find something so killer, why mess with the formula anyway. “Eye Of The Universe, The Source” and “Wheels Turn” marked the weakest part of the album in my view. It is not for musical reasons, it is just the album seems to be on repeat by this point. It is great music but the songs seem to be recycling themselves this far into the album and therefore, I find these three tracks pretty forgettable. Sitting through these three though is worth it as it is followed by something majestic and simply huge, a 9 minute instrumental entitled “Supernoid.” On this track, Tombstones play like a band that has been around forever, this tune reeks of class and finesse. The album has a real 70’s vibe and this album closer is one of the most 70’s inspired moments on the disc. If this track doesn’t blow you away, you better check your pulse.

A recording like “Volume II” can be look at in a couple of ways. There is the repetitive, predictable nature of the album for one and this is indeed very repetitive and highly predictable but at the same time, it is a perfect representation of how to make and play this genre of music. The fact that this was recorded pretty much live proves that Tombstones can do this stuff in their sleep like the band is a car set to cruise-control. The album has a wonderful atmosphere that you can get lost in and can be played just about at any time of the day or night as I found it to be incredibly heavy but also kind of relaxing. Despite it being repetitive, unoriginal and predictable, it is also packed with great riffs and an engaging atmosphere which is all enhance by the excellent production. This could be a stepping-stone to a monumental album next time around but for now, this one of the best doom albums I have heard from Norway in the last couple of years…8/10
Tombstones @ MySpace

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Posted January 16, 2011 by doommantia in Tombstones

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