Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12 Days of Christmetal: Path of Totality - Tombs - 2011

Wow. Coming onto my radar as a late-season counterpoint to the underwhelming An Ache for the Distance, Tombs' Path of Totality is a sludge of a different sort, a dirge with teeth. It's a doomy slab of momentum, the same kind of forward power as Sabotage (though any real similarities end there). At the same time, Path of Totality has strata and comes on like a glacier, lumbering layers piled through the ages with the power to shape the very earth. In short, it's a motherfucker.

Path of Totality plays as bleakly as its sleeve suggests, with spare lyrical content of the deliberate, apocalyptic (think "Biblical") variety. This is no foot-stomper, to be sure, but it's no snooze, either. Path of Totality may be slower than its metal brethren but it feels as if it's always right behind you and its jagged rhythms rotate and flagellate with the determination and frustration of an elbow stuck in a sweater. It's an album full of tension. Guitars are dense, the bass swollen and each beat of the drum a flailing strike of a knife in the dark. Mike Hill's vocals find their menace in the matter-of-fact delivery of lines such as I'll wear a crown / I eat the heart of her memory / I bear the mark in the shadow of her effigy.

Path of Totality is some kind of masterpiece and one of which I feel I am just beginning to scratch the surface. It is absolutely engaging from beginning to end. It is at once lush and cold, enveloping and distant. It is both the watcher and the watched, communicating a message ancient and alien whose ultimate interpretation, spelling d-o-o-m, nonetheless compels the listening participant to unravel its mystery regardless of its inevitable and so very final conclusion. My God, this is just fantastic.

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