By Don S. MacCobb

Tombstoned is a relatively new doom / space / psych rock trio out of Finland.  They formed in early 2010 and released a well-received 4-song demo by the end of that year.  They recorded their first full-length album this past summer and were signed to Svart Records soon after the LP was pretty much ready.  The self-titled effort was released by the label in November and is comprised of six tracks of mostly extended songs featuring traditional structures interlaced with energetic jamming, fuzzy guitars and synths on space-trippin’ aural adventures.

Lead man, Jussi’s vocals often brings to mind images of hairspray and make-up legend Robert Smith of The Cure, an impression which can neither be negated nor escaped.  The tonal similarity here in the vocals somehow darkens the music and makes the album best listened to on a rainy afternoon, no matter what warm or spacey territory the band blasts off into.  And blast off they do, suddenly, at the drop of a hat the band will jet into synth drenched instrumental freakouts, such as during long stretches of “Daze of Degredation”.  Of course, that’s not the only trick the band has up its collective sleeve, in fact the sound is hard to pin down to any one influence.  “It's a mixture of Classic Doom, Proto-Metal, Psychedelic and space rock as well as some prog,” Jussi says via email.  “With a little hint towards the more modern Stoner/Doom/Sludge scene.”

You can try to peg Tombstoned as a space rock band but don’t tell them that, they had no set formula in mind when founding the band.  That just seems to be the way Finns like it, and the response to their sound has been positive in their home territory.  “We just wanted to play. That's pretty much it. There was no goal or mission apart from just playing some music we wanted to play / hear.  After the first demo we started getting some recognition and gigs pretty fast, though (in Finland).”

Heavy-handed bassist Olavi deserves special mention here as he does so much more than simply hold the backbone of the band in place.  He’s like a second percussionist out there, playing with feel and playing for keeps.  Know that though Tombstoned is a gentle and hirsute space rock band on the surface, Olavi punishes that bass guitar.  Bass runs will thump hard while grooving in lock-step with drummer Akke so that you can’t tell where one performance begins and the other ends.  It’s no surprise the two are so symbiotic in nature as the duo comprises the rhythm section of another band as well.  “Akke and Olavi ( drums & bass ) also play in a punk rock band called Hunters. I also play in a Improvisation/Kraut/Boogie/Southern/Something band called Methadrone U.S.A.  Akke used to play hardcore [when he was] younger..”

Not many bands treat the bass as a lead instrument and it’s a shame because it can work so well, as it does here.  Tombstoned aren’t the kind of band to have Jussi (who doubles on guitar / keyboard) rattle off a fingerprint altering solo while the rhythm section thrums steadily away in the background.  Either the loop pedal is pushed and he jumps onto keyboards or the whole band moves like a marauding horde through an extended and energetic jam in double time, the results are chaotic and stunning.  The inverse of this can be found on closing number “The Last Waltz”, which has a good cowboy feel to it, where the band shuts things right down for a jam that would give the most deliberate and plodding of funeral doom bands a run for their money.

‘Tombstoned’ documents a doom boogie jam band in confident control of their own sound, relying on the collective group dynamic to steer the (space)ship.  With no genre fences and no structural limits the band is pretty much free to carve out a niche of their own, it just happens to be one that stoner/doom and space rock fans will come to appreciate.