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A Throwback Without Being Derivative. - 91%

MrMetalpants, July 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, 20 Buck Spin (Limited edition)

After hearing 2017's Primordial Malignity I was immediately hyping on this band. Either extremely prolific or they have a backlog of material they finally put to a recording. They released two EPs and a full-length last year, then a follow-up sophomore release before the half-way point this year. I love that their style hits the classic early 90's death metal grime and tone without being overly concerned with copying a genre so hard into accidentally creating a whole new genre, *ahem*, Dead Congregation... Also the album art is just magnificent. Look at the over-the-top detail, fuzzy outlines, shotgun-blasted colors (I'm avoiding the use of the word 'baroque' so as not to seem pretentious). When I unwrapped the CD I realized they were further getting the early-90's feels with the classic jewel case; you know, the one with the black matte spine and disc tray. The liner notes were stripped down with the song titles, lyrics, and credits only. Simple and classy, for an album about esoteric and seemingly random lifeforms running rampant.

The guitars are have a great tone that's like a buzz saw ripping away at a putrid and slimy carcass. The guitars play with this sound well. Some bands use heavy distortion then get overproduced into oblivion to make it sound heavier. This band really plays their instruments heavy, especially in the guitars and vocals. The mastering only adds to it. They have that cavernous sound but it's done proportionately. The leads are enjoyable, like on "Abysswalker" or "Chamber of Sacred Ootheca". They are played with some off notes to give a sense that something is wrong and uneasy. This is kept with the dueling and dizzy guitar solos. The bass is low and crushing yet melodious when it calls for it. The vocals are deep and gravely throughout but never too monotonous. The drums mix it up constantly and make for a great listen just on their own. Again, listen to "Abysswalker" or the epic "Two Worlds Become One" for a good example of how the constant state of change makes for a great song and enjoyable percussion section. Also, can you believe the drummer is the vocalist!? Major kudos to playing such interesting drums and doing vocals!

Like noted above, the writing is reminiscent of throwback death metal. This is hit on pretty much in every way the instruments are written. I appreciate that even their 7+ minute songs never feel stretched out or repetitious. There is plenty of variation in the writing, which I greatly appreciate in the aforementioned "Abysswalker". Sometimes these aspiring to be traditional-sounding death metal bands get the sound right but end up writing absolutely boring albums. Not the case here! The song "Chamber of Sacred Ootheca" is probably the most the most plain, but even then it's still a great listen. There's no weak tracks on this album and for me lives up to the hype following their debut.

Favorite tracks:
--Blood Mirror
--Two Worlds Become One
--Final Struggle of Selves

Technical skill: 86% Originality: 83% Song writing: 92% Production: 95% Accessibility: 80%

A distorted foretelling. - 95%

GrizzlyButts, June 12th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, 20 Buck Spin

The deeply twisted and rabidly tunneled rhythms of Toronto’s death metal history might have been lit by the sparking chainsaws and flamethrower blasts of Slaughter and Sacrifice back in the 80’s but the darkest catacombs were sealed until the mid 2000’s. With the limits of extreme metal being pushed nationwide for the last decade groups like Adversarial, Paroxsihzem, Abyss and Thantifaxath entered the 2010’s with greater-honed, transformative skills and somewhere in that same mix festered the aspirations of Tomb Mold. Initially formed as a duo of Derrick Vella (guitar, bass) and Max Klebanoff (vocals, drums) within a (speculative) timeline presumably after Klebanoff joined Abyss in 2011, and beyond his five year investment in groove-death metal band Fragile Existence. On a plane all their own just a few short years after their first tape, the phenomenal momentum of Tomb Mold‘s hungered-after releases appears to have forced a refining sledge of evolution upon their rotten sound.

Their sound as a duo back in 2016 evolved from a mix of Purtenance and demo-era Dismember on ‘The Bottomless Perdition’ towards a more nuanced Witch Vomit-adjacent sound on ‘The Moulting’. The Finnish death metal influences became even more evident on their debut full-length ‘Primordial Malignity’ which featured dirty-but-readable production that tore away from the cavernous horror of their demos. At the very least the band’s debut was on par with both Funebrarum records as well Vorum‘s ‘Poisoned Mind’ in terms of old school sound and sharp riff progressions. Looking back a year removed from Tomb Mold‘s debut, I think it deserved a bit more fanfare for mixing the cruel attack of Morpheus Descends ‘Ritual of Infinity’ with the thoughtfully trailing intensity of Adramelech‘s first album.

To further elevate expectations, Tomb Mold wasted zero time vaulting off the momentum of their debut by expanding their staff to a four-piece and testing the expanded potential of a full line-up with their ‘Cryptic Transmissions’ demo just six months later. The demo’s bassy tones had a gnarly ‘Severed Survival’ thump but more notably the writing brought an elevated, technical form to their old Finn-deathly sogginess. It was clear that with greater expectations, and two more brains, came increased potential for compositional intricacy. With just two songs already measuring half the length of ‘Primordial Malignity’ a ‘leap forward’ moment was imminent. That prophesied leap would come far sooner than expected with the announcement for the next full-length coming less than three months after the demo.

Momentum can be a dangerous thing in the world of death metal, especially if we look to the history of promising, over-hyped death metal bands in the early 90’s who collapsed when tours fell through, albums flopped, or quickly shifting scene trends deflated their appeal. From the perspective of a collector high potential energy often leads to a bright burn and a quick fade, resulting in some of genre music’s greatest gems be it Gorement or Morbus Chron. But as a fan who forms personal attachment with tours, shirts, albums, and the promise of more… a band that rises to greatness (see: branding) and rides it steadily (Immolation) can retain value that diminishes slowly and reinforces their rise. I see the development of Tomb Mold‘s sound as a great example of how trend-immune a project can potentially be as it’s ‘sound’ begins to supplant its beginnings slightly with new and increasing collaboration. In lieu of describing the impact of it’s momentous potential energy, ‘deliberate ambition’ is how I’d first describe the stylistic statement ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ makes.

Through alternating periods of analysis and casual enjoyment I’ve found the second Tomb Mold full-length to be confidently gymnastic compared to the manic aggression of their previous work. The longer, unpredictable compositions and multitude of riff-changes skirt the edges of old school technical death metal without ever falling into chaos, careless dissonance or Demilich-ian redundancy. ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ isn’t memorable for any grand innovation or flamboyance so much as it relies on a daunting, fractal stream of consciousness that spirals and grinds with twice the ambition of the first record. It’d be hyperbolic to describe the experience as ‘impenetrable’ but the deliberate nature of the guitar work demands rapt attention throughout and I’d often lose the ‘arc’ of certain songs on the first few listens.

Stylistically speaking ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ blends the furious bludgeon of ‘Ritual of Infinity’ with the clever precision of Demigod and expels it all through the bone-lined caverns of Convulse‘s ‘World Without God’. The riffs are immediate and unrelenting throughout as if plucked directly from ’92 somewhere between Helsinki and New York. Klebanoff‘s vocals are reminiscent of Burial Invocation‘s original vocalist but with a range a bit closer to Krypts‘ Antti Kotiranta; his delivery is perhaps less obscured and distant in the mix than either band but the tonality is often comparable. I believe most folks will be focused on the guitar performances for the first several listens but it is worth noting how flawlessly tuned the overall sound of Tomb Mold is on ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ thanks to mastering from Arthur Rizk (Inquisition, Power Trip).

Balance without compromise is struck in furthering Tomb Mold‘s stylistic ambitions while tastefully retaining the original intentions of the project. What initially appears as an ‘Erosion of Sanity’-like melange of influences colliding together to form a ‘sound’ actually holds up as a reasonably original conception for old school inspired death metal in 2018. The sonic references, mood, and delivery are inspired but not so derivative that one can pin down ‘Manor of Infinite Forms’ as plain ‘worship’, genre entry, or idolatry. It is just challenging enough to carry depth but never so ambitious that the power of ancient death metal’s attack is lost. Is it memorable though? That’ll depend on your love of riffs and whether intense spectacle or elaborate maze-like compositions are more important. The middle ground is perhaps early Sentenced, Atrocity or Mercyless and if you get excited at the promise of a detour towards the more esoteric edges of ‘Slumber of Sullen Eyes’ this’ll be your new favorite thing.

When I’ve listened to an album so much I lose some perspective when the time comes to reflect upon the best point of induction. A key point of endorsement, actually. No doubt the title track is stand-out but the further refined version of “Blood Mirror”, the opener from the ‘Cryptic Transmissions’ demo, is the ultimate ‘speaks for itself’ piece. The complete listen is relatively flawless in arrangement and execution as a whole. So, outside of maybe the impressive, mosh-able Swedeath build of “Final Struggle of Selves” as a salable point of interest, it is an album best taken whole and revisited. The full listen grew upon me like adipocere within a moist tomb, each layer held value as it’s inner-workings unfolded across countless listens and ultimately exceeded unrealistic expectations. Essential death metal for 2018.


The album they should have released in 2017 - 81%

Cosmic Mystery, June 10th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, 20 Buck Spin

Manor of Infinite Forms is 40 minutes of death metal that is played in vein of the old school era and occasionally veers off into doom metal whilst taking notes from Incantation. Solid songwriting, death metal growling mixed with yelling barks, small portions of technical drumming that venture into thrash metal dominion and guitar solos that match the pace and feeling of the album instill the listener with the feeling of completion and coherence. Having heard Tomb Mold’s 2017 effort titled Primordial Malignity I became interested in what else they had in store. To my surprise, 1 year and some months later we have a second full length offering from the band. I don't know how I honestly feel about this early release; my thoughts are saying 2 things right now, 1) either they have an unquenchable desire to stay active in the production of new material on an often basis or, 2) Manor of Infinite Forms is a collection of B sides and unreleased demo material that didn't qualify for their 2017 album. Currently it leans towards the latter ambit of my surmises, hence the title Manor of Infinite Forms which implies difference by the use of “Infinite”. Usually that could turn out to be a bad thing when bands release full length records or demos within a short time span of each other, for fans of the music may interpret it as a rushed or forced effort thus causing disinclination. I thought this release could have waited for at least another year; not to say the music is bad or lacks merit; it feels too much to digest between now and then. However, despite being such an early release, it does live up to the task of delivering a well rounded and improved version of Primordial Malignity. Their 2017 effort was “ok” and did grasp my interest (thanks to “Merciless Watcher”) but never stood out to me out as a defining record in Tomb Mold’s career. It possessed one good song that I liked and though everything else on the record was decent, it sounded all too unsure. Had I written a review of Primordial Malignity it would have received a score of about 60. Manor of Infinite Forms addresses and rectifies some of the issues that adversely impacted their 2017 debut full length album.

My main problem with Primordial Malignity dwelled within the songwriting department; apart from “Merciless Watcher” every other track felt very aimless and devoid of any purpose. More times than often the music would shuffle around and prong at alternate directions that never contributed towards improving the compositions. Songs would begin convincingly then for no reason, drastically change tempos almost in an experimental fashion. This is done to far better effect on Manor of Infinite Forms. Whenever a different rhythmic path is introduced, the listener knows that the same song is being played but with mildly varying instrumentation. There is a far greater amount of coherence and harmony in each section of the tracks. “Gored Embrace (Confronting Biodegradation)” can be cited as an example of such improvements. It begins slow in tempo then rapidly builds into a faster thrashier version of the opening moments. The guitar riffs are different during this transition, but they match and adhere to the initial model of the music. There is no structural disillusion when addressing the methods (beit doom, death and thrash) derived to create and complete the compositions; each offering is confidently presented and withstands the challenge of retaining the listener’s allure for its respected duration. This is a major improvement in my books, being able to deliver a lengthy yet enjoyable and engaging body of work is no easy feat when taking into consideration the short attention span of human beings and the fact that this is death metal that has been done before by many bands. What Tomb Mold has essentially done here is revisit their previous album, trimmed all the unnecessary edges and elaborated on the memorable facets of that release.

The 2nd most persistent impediment of Primordial Malignity lay within the guitars; not the members ability to play, but the sound. The riffs, solos and pinch harmonics on that album sounded very thin and stringy in comparison to the loud bass, drums and vocals. I don’t know if that was an effect of compression, however; one can definitely identify the attenuated sound it generated. It’s quite disappointing due to the fact that some of the riffs on that album were very tuneful, for instance on the self titled track and on “Merciless Watcher”. Had the production been beefier, the songs would certainly have had a greater appeal. In major disparity to Primordial Malignity, Manor of Infinite Forms possesses a louder and robust sound to the guitars and the overall album. The notes from each instrument being played pops out vibrantly thus reinforcing a sense of confidence and purpose within the band. Songs such as “Two Worlds Become One” and “Blood Mirror” take advantage of this improved production, given they are the lengthiest on the album with more varying guitar leads and riffs. Manor of Infinite Forms is the album that should have been released as Tomb Mold’s full length debut because it executes most aspects with better precision and production. The guitars are brought forward, the vocals still sound catastrophic and the drums add another layer of depth to the already rich gulping resonance. Despite my feelings that suggest Manor of Infinite Forms is a collection of B sides and randomized demo tracks, I can’t ignore the fact that the instrumentation beckons immersion which may disprove my initial claims. Manor of Infinite Forms is a better effort from Tomb Mold; it will be interesting to see how it holds up against other death metal albums both released and upcoming.

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