Released: 2016, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
One step forward, two steps back, and a half step to the left.
Not necessarily a bad thing, but that’s the first thought that crossed my mind listening to Brooklyn’s Tombs and their latest EP ALL EMPIRES FALL. 2014’s SAVAGE GOLD shed much of Mike Hill’s foothold in post-industrial leanings for a more organic, straightforward new wave of American black metal approach. That album was a real breakthrough for the band and introduced them to broader audiences through support slots on tour with the likes of 1349, but I imagine it also alienated older fans that were more inclined towards Tombs’ more experimental leanings.
The 5 tracks on ALL EMPIRES FALL sound like an attempt to bridge past and present Tombs in an attempt to make everyone in the family happy. The tunes are genetically close enough to SAVAGE GOLD, but are presented with the cold dissonant atmosphere that prevailed on WINTER HOURS and PATHS OF TOTALITY. Opening instrumental “The Word is Made of Fire” matches charging riffs with spooky synth work (courtesy of new keyboardist Fade Kainer), existing primarily to introduce the blistering lead cut, “Obsidian”. It’s a track that should stand tall with the likes of “Gossamer” and “Black Hole of Summer”. Fast, fierce, hostile, and bleak; it’s almost synonymous with the Tombs brand itself. “Last Days of Sunlight” and “V” harken back to the older days with a new sort of Godflesh meets Sisters of Mercy-esque crossover, while “Deceiver” opts for a more openly agro, mid-tempo grudge.
ALL EMPIRES FALL ends up feeling a bit disjointed, but it succeeds in building anticipation for the inevitable full length to come. Judging from these 5 tracks, Mike Hill is intent to move forward with Tombs, but isn’t afraid to lean on the past – or the uncertain, in order to make that happen.