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Sunday 15 September 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Tomb Mold (Live Review By Paul Hutchings)

Tomb Mold, Ritual Necromancy & Of Feather And Bone, The Exchange, Bristol

Hailing from Canada, death metal exponents Tomb Mold have blasted onto the scene with all the decorum of a charging rhino. Three full-length releases in three years as well as an EP puts these guys in the prolific camp. Not only is their output regular, it’s also some of the best death metal heard in years. With only two UK gigs on their European tour, this was a night not to miss and it proved to be exactly that. By all accounts opening band Slimelord from Leeds were a good start to the evening. Apologies to them as we arrived too late to catch their haunting doom-soaked death metal. A quick listen to their latest release The Delta Death Sirens supports the view of the room and they will be on the list to catch next time around.

We were firmly in place for Denver trio Of Feather And Bone (8) whose 35-minute set of hardcore grind death and crust pulverised the healthy crowd gathered expectantly in front of them. There is none of the flouncy intro tape malarkey with death metal bands, they finish their tuning and checks, look at the crowd, say “ready” and proceed to destroy. Of Feather And Bone formed in 2012 and have a couple of EPs and long players to their name, the most recent the 2018 release Bestial Hymns Of Perversion. There’s not a lot to watch; the blur of drummer Preston Weippert, the roar of vocalist and bassist Alvino Salcedo and the thrashing of guitarist and vocalist Dave Grant is about the sum of it but you don’t need a lot of movement as you are required to hold all your senses in check to fend of the pummelling that this three-piece create. From intense full-speed thrashing to slower paced bludgeoning groove, Of Feather And Bone simply crushed it. In a flash it was over, but hell of a start and the internal organs were already asking “what the hell is going on dude?”

If my spleen was weeping after Of Feather And Bone, it was positively screaming after the 40 minutes of Portland’s Ritual Necromancy (8). Putting aside a few microphone issues, bassist and vocalist Justin Friday, drummer Kevin Schrentelkamp and more recent additions Jay Wroth and fellow guitarist Jonathan Quintana delivered an equally punishing set. Friday is captivating to watch, the man disappearing into a trance like state as he delivers gruesome low and unintelligible roars and grunts, his eyes rolled back, and his frame quickly drenched in sweat. Down tuned, dirty and extremely sinister, Ritual Necromancy accelerated quickly before reaching their masterpiece, Disinterred Horror, the title track from their 2018 sophomore release which contained brutal fast sections and large slabs of slow, crushing passages. It was an intense experience and standing two foot from one of the speakers meant I was trembling uncontrollably by the end of their set, purely due to the vibrations summoned from the demonic summoning that the Portland outfit had seen fit to spew out.

With such a strong undercard, you’d have been a brave person to suggest that Tomb Mold (9) would get a higher rating than their American brothers but the Canadians simply raised the bar another level with a display of power and control which ensured neck ache, bleeding ear drums and a lot of smiles. The band combined tracks from this year’s excellent Planetary Clairvoyance with 2018’s Manor Of Infinite Forms, the EP Cerulean Salvation and their 2017 debut release Primordial Malignity. Unbelievably, given the force and complexity of the drumming involved in Tomb Mold’s music, drummer Max Klebanoff also delivered some of the gruffest death metal vocals heard for many a moon. This left the front of the stage open for bassist Steve Musgrave, flanked by the twin guitars of Derrick Vella and Payson Power, and the trio gurned, grimaced and scowled their way through the 50-minute set. By the time the band left the stage, the crowd were calling for more but also reeling from a three-hour assault from some of the finest death metal Bristol has heard for some time. Full marks to the excellent audience who filled the venue, to the organisers for getting this festering heavy beast of a package to a show outside of London, and to the bands for playing blinding sets.

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