T.O.M.B. – Terror Winds Review

I picked up Terror Winds for shock – I’ll admit that fully. When we last met T.O.M.B.1 I readily dealt my very first 1.0 roundhouse kick. 2020’s Thin the Veil was, by all accounts, a disgrace. Offering a revolving door of guest musicians without a thread of consistency while flaunting painfully directionless songwriting in the name of kvlt kred, it consisted of forty-five minutes of noisy industrial black metal that felt about forty-three minutes too long. Straddling the fence between a bargain bin Psyclon Nine “beats ‘n shred” approach and the Tetragrammacide ascetic aesthetic with the grace of a toddler, it was something else. I just didn’t expect to see T.O.M.B. back ’round these parts so soon.

Without abandoning its proclivity for sonic abuse, T.O.M.B. turns to black metal’s roots in an album with De Mysteriis Dom Satanas and Transilvanian Hunger in mind. Shredding tremolo, rabid blastbeats, harrowing shrieks, and a ragged edge of noise all play a part to really drive the blasphemy home. It’s everything you expect from a black metal album. Just ask the opening title track: dense riffs and sharp blastbeats combine for an undeniably harrowing experience, while its edge of industrial barb adds just enough noise to add to the chaos. That’s the kicker: in one of the biggest surprises of the year, T.O.M.B. ain’t bad.

While its predecessor showed its hand nearly immediately, sacrificing subtlety for obnoxious industrial bombast, Terror Winds finds T.O.M.B. embracing the ghosts of kvlt past, focusing on exploratory songwriting through second-wave worship. Each track features all the hallmarks (tremolo, blastbeats, and shrieks) and the fluidity between moments of dense dread and piercing melody is highlighted in the upbeat pummeling. The songwriting blessedly shows great growth, Terror Winds’ seeming to revel in its blasphemy with sprawling leads and icy atmosphere, a meditative quality in tracks like “Wraiths” and “In the Ugly Dark.” Exchanging punky Ildjarn-esque percussion for doomy plods and rabid blastbeats, the tracks are carried along with remarkable ease, varying from placid (the epic closer “Reincarnation”) and ferocious (“Hatred to All”), the guitar performance matching with mysterious or dissonant melodies atop. Perhaps most impressive about T.O.M.B. is its use of noise and electronic effects. Just as – if not more – prevalent than in Thin the Veil, these power electronics-influenced soundscapes are fused with blackened riffs to enhance their density in Terror Winds, coming across with expert dynamics in “Frost Tyrants” as riffs waver between thick wallops of sound and piercing minor melodies. Ambitiously, closer “Reincarnation” revels in an absolutely ominous work of atmosphere, noise soundscapes undergirding menacing plucking until it erupts into unmatched fury, its many layers disintegrating toward the end of the runtime.

Terror Winds is exactly what T.O.M.B. needed after Thin the Veil, as it smartly blends ambition with familiarity. This results in an extremely safe album, as the group never ventures far from the beaten path, with very few blatant errors plaguing the tracks but little life-changing either. Each passage and soundscape feels fully inspired by Darkthrone and Mayhem, forever living in their shadow, with only the industrial noise setting it apart. Furthermore, its sound is increasingly hostile, refusing to buy into the goofy EDM influence that pervades acts like Eggvn or Mora Prokaza – although listeners may find its melodies stuck somewhere between the melodrama of vampiric interpretations and icy tendrils of frostbitten ambiance. T.O.M.B. will not change your mind about black metal, although they offer a tasteful interpretation of it for fans of second-wave shenanigans.

I had very low expectations for T.O.M.B. going into Terror Winds. As I pressed play, I’m sure I sighed and prepared to cringe – but no shudder arrived. In a radical departure from its predecessor’s emphasis on schlock novelty, Terror Winds is a fine example of black metal’s glory days refined by industrial noise soundscapes – never overstaying its welcome at thirty-four minutes. Moving fluidly between the clarity of frostbitten melody and moving mountains of density, all the while guided by wise and wild percussion, T.O.M.B. plays it close to the vest in perhaps the most surprisingly good comeback I’ve seen. While it plays it a little too close to the vest, that’s unbelievably okay, because I straight-up enjoyed Terror Winds way more than I expected – with one of the best black metal/noise fusions I’ve witnessed.2 It’s hard to believe it’s the same minds behind Thin the Veil.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Essence Records
Websites: tombnoise.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/totalocculticmechanicalblasphemy
Releases Worldwide:
December 2nd, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Stands for Total Occult Mechanical Blasphemy.
  2. Not saying too much, but still.
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