Dig down into the ground. Laboriously move the earth until you hit concrete, and slowly scrape the dirt from the lid. As the sun creeps behind the horizon you eagerly pry and pull at the ponderous slab until at last it gives way with a nasty hiss, exposing the overfull septic tank. As the nauseating vapor tendrils rise from the oily, noxious surface you feverishly breathe deep and bask in the vile aroma of the freshly exhumed offal pond. Such an ugly, disgusting reward is perhaps more readily attained by spinning the debut full-length from Tomb Mold, as they’re every bit as fetid, revolting and repugnant, but somewhat less likely to give you Hepatitis A-C. Formed by Max Klebanoff and Derrick Vella, this two-man project is steeped in the gutter filth of Autopsy and Disma, but also pays grisly homage to the worst angels of Swe-death and Finn-death. Steadfastly low-fi, low-tech and crude, Primordial Malignity is a caliginous manifesto to waste and squalor, and that obviously makes for good death metal.
You’re initially greeted by throbbing and ominous ambient noise until “They Grow Inside” violently births itself across the floor in a gory explosion of blastbeats, guttural death bleats and unusually twangy, discordant riffs. It coalesces into a d-beaty stomper with more than a little early Carcass influence, but the whacked out guitar tone never stops bouncing and prancing atop the maelstrom in a way you need to hear to fully appreciate.
That unusual tone is the reason Tomb Mold‘s music stands out and every song is like a unsolvable conflict between the traditional death metal instrumentation and the off-kilter riffing. It makes for quite the quirky listening experience on cuts like “Bereavement of Flesh,” a reworked demo track, and fresh monstrosities like “Clockwise Metamorphosis.” It’s almost like the jazz-fusion death made famous by Pestilence, but without the jazz. In its place is minimalist weirdness that falls somewhere between brilliant and deranged. Riffs corkscrew here and there, always impossible to ignore because of the weird sound and the mix which puts them dead center in your attention zone.
This idiosyncratic style works in the band’s favor and partially conceals the fact that much of what they’re playing is orthodox, albeit sludgy death metal. However, songs like the title track and “Coincidence of Opposites” are good but not all that memorable despite the flair, and by the middle of the album you’ve heard their entire bag of tricks. That’s not to say there isn’t enjoyable fare here, as cuts like “Twisted Trail” manage to sound modern and ancient at once, mixing elements of Possessed‘s Seven Churches with Pestilence and Dismember, while “Merciless Watcher” and “Clockwise Metamorphosis” have little riff flourishes that elevate the memorability and make them seem far more interesting than they normally would.
Primordial runs a short 32 minutes and goes by pretty fast. The sound is cavernous, murky, raw and a bit overly chaotic at times, but it does fit the scab-core they’re spewing. I do however find it a bit fatiguing when listening on headphones.
This is all about the riffs from Derrick Vella and he deserves credit for making what could have been standard issue death feel more unpredictable and adventurous. What he does is hardly technical or “progressive” in the normal sense of the word, but it does add an atypical element to the shit stew, often making the harsh music feel more lively and buoyant. His bass-work is also commendable, being both audible and just a wee bit funky at times. Klebanoff abets the ear crimes with a low-register croak perfectly suited to the cesspool the duo choose to marinate their tuneage in. It ain’t pretty, but his throaty croaking works.
Primordial Malignity is unrefined and rough around the edges, but definitely an enjoyable dose of rancid noise that establishes Tomb Mold as a band to watch. There’s a lot of potential here and while I’m not going so far as to call them the next Carcass, with a bit more experience these guys could become something very special indeed. Peakaboo, here’s your crust-poo!