Once again, it’s that awesome moment when you’re given a band whose name isn’t exactly search engine-friendly. Joining the ranks of Voices, Satan, Hell, and Tomb of Finland, we have… Un. Not the easiest name to google for a band. Rumor has it that this Seattle band was once called Un The Non-Believer, and their logo was a leiopleurodon who would whisk the listener away to a mountain of candy while two unicorns disemboweled a third inside of said mountain.1 Even so, the sheer level of heavy brought forth by their debut, The Tomb of All Things, cannot be denied.
Do you folks like Pallbearer? Of course ya do, silly! Un sounds like they do as well, except they decided to slow things down to a sloth-on-downers crawl, kept the uplifting guitar melodies to the barest of minimums, and thought it would be pretty swell to replace the dulcet, harmonious vocals of Brett Campbell with that of a rabid grizzly bear. Said grizzly bear, Monte Mccleery (Samothrace), has a very convincing growl to him, reminding me of As the Flower Withers-era Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride). With the exception of a “clean” shouting part in proper opener “Sol Marasmus,” it’s just full-on guttural growls, perfect for this particular album.
Musically, while Pallbearer is a good reference point, this is less uplifting. In fact, it could go toe-to-toe with Mournful Congregation in terms of sheer oppressive sadness and unrelenting heaviness. Mccleery and fellow guitarist David Wright wring out every chunky riff, using only the sparsest amount of melodies as a garnish, especially the incredible lead at the 5:32-6:07 mark in “Through the Luminous Dusk.” There’s even a bit of black metal drumming courtesy of Andrew Jamieson near the end of the title track to keep listeners on their toes, with Mccleery shrieking. “Forgotten Path,” the longest song at over 14 minutes, draws you in and keeps you planted to the earth, with a lush melody at 4:15, before caving your head directly into your feet at 4:42 with the mother of all riff and drum combos.
Are there faults on The Tomb of All Things? Sure, there are a few. Just like Pallbearer before them, the songs go on and on, and a five-song, 53-minute album can be quite daunting, especially since the intro, “Epigraph,” is just two-and-a-half minutes long. Thankfully, there aren’t many wasted moments on here, and even “Epigraph” fits in beautifully. Sound-wise, the Jon Lervold production is absolutely massive, with the guitars and drums taking up all the breathing space, even though bassist Clayton Wolff can be heard at times. Even so, the bleakness is given some clearing space whenever a quiet, reflective part arrives, giving the album much-needed dynamics.
I’m bummed that my year-end list has been solidified already, as The Tomb of All Things is quite the beastly funeral doom record. You can’t go wrong putting this in your collection if you want your holiday seasons to be full of doom and gloom. I just wish they went with my name suggestion.2