Too often, black metal emanates feelings of pain or hate. That visceral anger that develops deep inside each of us needs to escape and liberate the vessel from which it feeds its presence in the genre. This must be the core feeling black metal artists choose to place upon that altar of creation.
Because music does that to people, U.S. Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemers T.O.M.B. are back with their seventh full-length album, “Terror Winds,” showing once again that the American black metal scene is in constant evolution. “Terror Winds” is the storming follow-up to “The Thin Veil,” which was released in 2020 on Dark Essence Records. It’s an album filled with necromantic noises and soundscapes that sees the band return to their graveyard roots of raw black metal. We’ve seen how T.O.M.B. has operated changes to the sounds, but this time it’s visceral and rooted in a more ‘classical’ vein of black metal.
Right from the start, you’ll immediately think of 90’s Norway, from rabid blast beats to shredding tremolo, harrowing shrieks, and a ragged edge of noise. These all play a vital part in driving the blasphemy back home, and it is everything you would expect from a black metal album. The sound of T.O.M.B. becomes far more aggressive, blasty, and chaotic. Despite being eeevil, these guys are technically exciting and wrote some solid riffs. The pummeling blasts, in-your-face riffs, and grooves characterize every minute of this album, yet they are exceptionally arranged never to leave the listener bored.
The six-song album starts with the title track and showcases dense riffs and sharp blast beats, which combine to create a harrowing experience. At the same time, their powerful wave of ambient keyboards and classic cryptic T.O.M.B. sounds adds just the right amount of noise to the raw chaos. It was about time someone took black metal to some new exciting, bloody levels.
Taking the best of black metal, dark ambient, doom, death industrial, and power electronics and stitching them into a tentacled, writhing mass of gelatinous evils, the U.S. band has created one mercilessly heavy yet strangely melodic beast. And it shows that with every track, ‘In the Ugly Dark,’ included.
In their press release, T.O.M.B. explains that “‘In the Ugly Dark’ serves as an introduction to the fierce songwriting style representative throughout the new six-song album. Its scorching guitar sound and barbaric drum beats coincide with the concept of a darkness unknown or experienced within the limitations of human existence.” There is an increased emphasis on the ambiance and ethos of bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone but does it still sound like classic T.O.M.B.? Abso-fucking-lutely, but much more epic and majestic in scope and with a little extra melody.
As a further testament to T.O.M.B.‘s writing skills, the album’s songs have clearly defined and memorable choruses despite the ear-bleeding brutality, especially ‘Wraiths‘ and ‘Hatred to All.’ Every track is a triumph in its own way, packed to the brim with violent yet beautiful fretwork. These tracks are engaging and memorable, to the point where I could recommend them to those that don’t really appreciate black metal.
‘Frost Tyrants‘ and ‘Reincarnation‘ get a well-earned extra nod for a spine-tingling collection of screams, roars, croaks, and riffs that add immeasurably to the intensity and power of the album. As we get closer to ‘Reincarnation,’ noise soundscapes are layered underneath menacing plucking until the track explodes into unmatched fury, its layers dissolving toward the end. “Terror Winds” is superior in every way to what T.O.M.B. has made so far and shows how black metal should be done. From the writing to the musicianship and the mood, this is one very fluid, complete, and satisfying slice of black metal. Run and get this album; it’s a planet killer!
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