"Under Sullen Skies"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It was just a few months back that TOMBS released the excellent "Monarchy of Shadows" and here they are again with "Under Sullen Skies". This kind of rapid workload can often lead to creative burnout and monotony, but Mike Hill and his troops maintain a high standard here. A big part of that success is that they actually work hard to make each song its own distinct thing instead of releasing an album full of monolithic sound-alike cuts. This is the hard approach to the craft and one TOMBS has embraced.

On these 12 tracks, Hill has asked a truckload of guest artists to help him with his vision. Members of INTEGRITY, PSYCROPTIC, SIX FEET UNDER and more pop up frequently. The songs range from the ferocious but melodic "Bone Furnace" to the CELTIC FROST/MY DYING BRIDE hybrid of "Void Constellation" to the head-on Goth/black metal collision of "Secrets of the Black Sun" to the blasting black death of "Lex Talonis". Pretty much everything hits the mark, with a dark atmosphere that doesn't smother the metallic force. At the tail end of the album, I feel things peter out with the syrupy Goth of "Somber Ruin" and "Plague Years" which starts out strong but whimpers at the end.  This lack of sting in the tail keeps this from being a five star album.

TOMBS doesn't really get the accolades they deserve but that doesn't stop them from being one of the hardest working and most consistent bands out there.