Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tombs and A Storm of Light @Webster Hall 6.09.2011

By the time I got inside Webster Hall, Bastard Sapling were already on. The incense sticks they had burning at the front of the stage was a worrying sign, but luckily their take on black metal was more evil than pretty. In fact, they reminded me of strongly of Winterfylleth (whose Mercian Sphere album may be my favourite black metal album from the last couple years). Their guitarist is formerly of Richmond weed enthusiasts Cannabis Corpse, so he's definitely got the metal chops (and cred) that a lot of modern American black metal bands lack. Looking forward to the full-length.

Despite their ties to Neurosis, Battle of Mice, and the Red Sparowes, A Storm of Light were rarely as exciting on record as their pedigree invoke. It's still very much rooted in the axis of post-doom that Neurosis pioneered and Isis ran away with, but seeing as one of those bands is largely in hibernation and the other is broken up (for now), A Storm of Light have every opportunity to make a bid for their abandoned thrones. On their latest album they draw more from the kind of catchy heaviness you'd expect from Tool or the Deftones, which one could uncharitably label A Storm of Lite. But it mostly works, especially with the addition of Nerissa Campbell's haunting back up vocals.

At their best, Tombs' rhythmic assault is jarring and and assaulting in a way that recalls Mike Hill's former band Anodyne, except much heavier. Things start to get pear-shaped when they incorporate traditional black metal into their sound. As much as I am an unapologetic whore for unrelenting blasting, in Tombs' case it makes them sound stiff and uninteresting. They're better off with their slower material, where their pummeling makes them sound like an analogue Godflesh. There are times though, like on "Beneath the Toxic Jungle", when the two approaches come together brilliantly instead of just sitting next to each other uncomfortably. Still, even if they aren't the most thrilling black metal band, they're at least more convincingly dangerous than Liturgy or any of the other hipster black metal bands currently plaguing Brooklyn. Once they've figured out how to make their art match their blackened hearts, they'll be unstoppable.