According to a totally legit Wikipedia search, the word “tehom” refers to the deep ocean which once existed and from which Biblical Creation began. The dark but somewhat aquatic artwork adorning the front of Tehom‘s The Merciless Light fits this story and these Swedes attempt to document these primordial times through the medium of blackened death metal. This won’t be the first time that religion and/or mythology has been explored in this way but I had hoped I might feel the somber gravitas which was distinctly lacking before. Alas, my hopes were dashed within the three tracks opening this début full-length.
The Merciless Light asks the question “how many chromatic riffs can be stitched together?” The energetic answer is “nearly 30 minutes” worth!1 But this further begs the question “what’s the fucking point?” Almost none are enjoyable, or even vaguely interesting. Riffs are indistinguishable from one track to the next, much like the tracks themselves. While some may initially sound decent, any quality is neutered by the simple similarity in style and tempo. And though an average of five-minute songs totaling 35 minutes is a great length for this sort of music, just one of these songs seems too long. The record isn’t immediately so dire because it does at least sound the part: guitar tones are buzzing, the bass is suitably muddy and the tone used for solos stands out without being too clean. But these component parts are not tied into anything which engages for a few minutes, let alone an entire track.
Most tracks follow a rigid formula. Tremolo-picked chromatic riffs lead the way with a couple of variations before slowing into groovier breakdowns which serve as transitions into the fully blackened whirlwinds comprising blast beats and greater atmosphere. A few guitar solos are arbitrarily distributed. Repeat once or twice per track then multiply by 6 for each track barring the ambient breather on “Tehom Invocation.” I noted this pattern on my first committed listen by the third track. Once you’ve taken on the opener, “Absorbed into the Will of the Great Destroyer,” there’s really nothing more added by the remainder of the album.
The Merciless Light is so uninspiring that I could scarcely motivate myself to write this review, even in takedown format. It’s not good enough to write a balanced review, nor is it even bad enough to thoroughly annihilate. It sits in the damningly poor place in-between which will never ever be remembered, unlike the impressively shit Superman 64 or Project Theory. The few of you who have read this far should know that you’ve wasted your time in doing so and in playing the linked track. Those seeking satisfaction in a concluding witty comment…