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Malignant since time immemorial. - 81%

hells_unicorn, October 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Blood Harvest (Limited edition)

There has always been a sense of commonality between the New York death metal scene and the somewhat less prolific yet equally vile one existing in the great white north. One can't help but reminisce upon the greater sense of brutality and technical wizardry that was ushered into the style thanks to the early works of Suffocation that were ratcheted up even further by the exploits of their even more otherworldly Canadian foils Cryptopsy. In more recent times the similar stylistic inclinations of both sides has remained constant, and the recent entry of a young act out of Toronto in Tomb Mold has served to underscore this fact something fierce. Drawing heavily from the muddy, rain-drenched auditory cemetery that is New York's low-fi corpse-mongers Incantation, this is a band that doesn't pull their necrotic punches. Curiously enough, they also prove to be quite effective in the independent, small label context into which their debut onslaught Primordial Malignity finds itself, as the Swedish distributor in question Blood Harvest has been quite prolific in serving up extreme metal newcomers to the market.

Naturally as with any newer band that is technically reaffirming an existing musical tradition within a revivalist context, Tomb Mold isn't quite a full on carbon copy of the peculiar sound exhibited in their New York forerunners. The same sort of fuzz-steeped, low-end darkness that permeated Incantations early works and was continued via Craig Pillard's more recent band Disma is on full display here, complete with the heavily present and distorted bass sound that shares equal prominence with the down-tuned guitars. However, the execution has a bit more of an early 90s Swedish flavor to it, listening close to how something by Entombed (prior to Wolverine Blues) or Dismember might have sounded when played through the template of a dank, New York production. There are also some fairly noticeable traces of early Cannibal Corpse influences spread about, largely in the vocal work of Max Kelbanoff, which functions as a sort of deeper and more gurgling variant on a vintage Chris Barnes grunt, something that contrasts with his more straight-lined, thrashing drum work.

It is actually rather fitting that these songs are the product of a two-person band, as they exude a sort of rustic, working-class quality to them that further distinguishes things from the throngs of Florida scene emulators that have been cropping up for the past decade. Apart from the creepy ambient intro and outro that rounds out this half hour of unrelenting brutality, the presentation is quite straightforward. Dissonant, rhythmically obscured crushers like "They Grow Inside", "Primordial Malignity" and "Merciless Watcher" are fairly busy both from a standpoint of riff work and progression, yet retain a sense of symmetry and predictability that makes them easy to follow and also betrays a greater affinity for the thrashing simplicity of the Stockholm scene. More straight up slabs of auditory barbarism such as "Coincidence Of Opposites" and "Clockwise Metamorphosis" take this tendency to a more overt place, occasionally flirting with full blown death/thrash territory and all but reaching back into the late 80s. Likewise, though heavily obscured by the production quality, Derrick Vella's lead guitar work could almost pass for slightly sloppier answer to Schuldiner's handiwork on Leprosy.

If nothing else, this is a band that lives up to its name, as the stench of filth and decay befitting a cemetery with tomb stones steeped in mold due to the dank conditions is an apt description of how this album sounds. Despite being released in 2017 and featuring album art that could almost be mistaken for something a modern blackened death outfit would sport, this is about as overt of a stylistic throwback to the mid-90s New York sound as one could get, albeit one splashed heavily with concurrent Swedish and some Florida elements from a couple years prior. The result is an album that is both familiar yet also possessed of a freshness that will undoubtedly play quite well to younger fans of old school death metal who want to mix things up a bit following a binge of cleaner, early 90s death metal imitators like Morfin and Rude. It's a bit rough around the edges and has more of an amateur flavor that is in line with a band that is just starting to get their bearings, but it's an excellent debut by a band that has expanded and kept themselves quite busy in the studio up until the present.

Primordial Malignity - 82%

Twin_guitar_attack, June 14th, 2017

Death metal duo Tomb Mold may be from Canada but they eschew the raw and noisy hellish war metal that’s become almost synonymous with their compatriots in the genre, even if that style may be suggested by the black and white hand drawn cover and particularly illegible logo, instead producing old school death metal the European way, with touches of USDM. With a Swedish chainsaw buzz to the guitars, dank Finnish production and brutally low vocals, as well as fantastic levels of US-groove to their killer basslines, it’s got an old school vibe with a fresh and energetic feel and it’s a complete, compact debut.

The intro alone is brilliant before you even get to any death metal, those droning overlapping synths make a relaxed spacey atmosphere that I could dig a whole album of, but it’s a change of pace straight into what we’re all here for almost immediately when They Grow Inside kicks off with a huge Swedish sounding barbed wire riff that’s fast and frantic, with a heavy section of groove from the d-beat drums and loud wirey bass that rattles away under the rumble of guitars like a tank crushing bones underneath. Grooving riffs swing like a scythe, while absolutely furious gutturals are bellowed forth with powerful roars that out-brutal the best of them, somewhere between Disma’s Craig Pillard’s low and slow dank emanations and Chris Barnes’ (in his prime) fast energetic barks. With the bass reminding of Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster’s technical fretboard mastery, the Swedish edge to the guitars and hints of Finnish filth purveyors Demigod and Rippikoulu’s faster moments, they’ve taken the best of the classic death metal scenes and combined them in one fantastic old school sound. Electrifying solos, blazing fast with a high pitched trebly tone are used sparingly but effectively throughout the album and give the hardened death metal fan another rush in addition to the groovy riff laden mayhem.

The music might be old school and originating in the early nineties sound, but the production is decidedly modern. Some of the filthy sound of Autopsy comes across with a certain rawness while the bassy production makes the guitars sound as meaty and heavy as an artillery barrage without quite going low and dank enough to delve into caverncore territory. The album doesn’t waste time either with eight tracks in just thirty two minutes, with the closer being the best part of seven, meaning Tomb Mold have no time for filler, and there’s plenty of tempo changes and monstrously heavy moments that will have you mouthing “holy fuck” while screwing your face into one of contorted death metal glee. A melding of modern and old school death metal at it’s finest.

Originally written for swirlsofnoise.com

Harrowing Canadian death metal - 92%

bolmeteus6, May 27th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, 12" vinyl, Blood Harvest (Limited edition)

Tomb Mold has only existed for a year and has already quickly made a name for themselves as one of the better and one of the more unique modern death metal bands; exploding into creation with two demos last year and now an album this year. I became aware of them almost immediately after their first demo, The Bottomless Perdition, came out due to a Canadian acquaintance sending it over, and it totally blew me away; blisteringly raw and chaotic, it was fundamentally a tribute to the classic Finnish death metal scene that I love so much and it immediately marked Tomb Mold as a band to be watched.

They soon put out another absolutely killer demo, which contained the first version of one of the songs on the album and marked a step towards the sound that they’ve embraced for the album- more complex, a bit less raw, no less killer.

Then came Primordial Malignity, which blew away all of my already extremely high expectations and is currently my favorite album to have been released this year, as of the time of this review, and quickly over repeated plays coming to be an early call for a recent favorite in general. Gone are the caverns of screaming noise; instead, there’s an organic crush of decay, beating down listeners into the abyss. The music is as strange and harrowing as I was hoping, but Tomb Mold have developed far beyond the base (if fucking killer) Finnish worship of their early demo material into something that I didn’t foresee at all but am extremely pleased with. They have evolved to play a style of death metal that, while retaining the same Finnish influence, has integrated the band’s other influences and identities as musicians to become something all their own. Fast and bouncing leads, ghastly rhythms, and horrifying snarling vocals are complemented by fantastic drumming that drives everything forward splendidly. Whenever a riff is played enough to even hint at becoming overly familiar, not only does the riff change but often the tempo does as well, with rapidfire changes between the bizarre twangs of Tomb Mold’s leads and a few more straightforward sections keeping the entire album grounded. Brief solos pop in and out for just long enough to impress without ever being distracting at all, which is how I think that death metal solos should be- I’m a much bigger fan of the Disma approach towards soloing than the Malmsteen one (at least in my death metal), and the Disma approach towards soloing is the one that the album has taken.

Filthy, massive, and just long enough to feel like a proper album without staying on for a second longer than the band felt like it had to (just barely surpassing the half hour mark), Tomb Mold have written an album to be listened to again…and again….and again.

Originally written for howlingflesh.com