2009’s WINTER HOURS turned out to be a sleeper hit for Brooklyn’s Tombs. Combining elements of Neurosis, Godflesh, and The Swans, the band’s full length debut was appreciated by critics and built up steam over the last year through constant touring and positive word of mouth. As the band is preparing to enter the studio for album number 2, Tombs has assembled a collection of early material and previously unreleased demos to whet the appetite of fans in the interim. FEAR IS THE WEAPON includes the band’s self titled 2008 EP (tracks 1-7), the tracks from the band’s split release with Planks (tracks 8-10) and demo versions of four tunes from WINTER HOURS (tracks 11-14). Essentially a primer for fans who were unfamiliar with the band prior to their association with Relapse, FEAR IS THE WEAPON effectively does what it sets out to do.
The songs from the band’s EP are pretty similar to the material on WINTER HOURS, so if you liked those songs, you’ll dig these too. The shiny, heavy, jangly riffs of “Fountain of the World 666,” the dense sadness of “Course of Empire,” the solemn noise of “Marina,” the punk infusion of “Hallways of the Always”, it’s all covered here. The tunes from the Plank split are a more raw and unpolished batch, and show a more primal version of Tombs. A decidedly more “metal” version of the band compared to what they’d evolve into, “Cypress” and “Gods of Love and Suicide” are the most aggressive that you’ve ever heard the band, while “Cheval Noir” is a brief exploration into the band’s more traditional sound. The four WINTER HOURS demos are a treat, as they’re similar enough to the finished product to sound familiar, but are different enough to merit their inclusion here. The production on these tunes is noticeably thicker and not as bright compared to the final mixes, and the performances feel a wee bit slower and entertain some different musical effects.
While it’s a decent companion piece to add to your Tombs library, what I ultimately wanted to hear at the end of the disc was some new material. But again, that’s the intent of the album, so…point made. FEAR IS THE WEAPON is limited to a one-time pressing of 1,000 copies and is exclusively available through the Relapse Records shop, so if you’re into the band you’ll want to snatch this one up ASAP.
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