Monarchy of Shadows EP

Maybe it’s the Relapse Records lineage, but I always seem to forget just how heavy Tombs are. That’s not to say there aren’t heavy bands on the Relapse roster because there most certainly are. However, I am always expecting something sludgy, along the lines of Baroness or Mastodon. Then, I press play and have a moment of; “Oh, yeah. These guys play black metal.” Yes. Yes, they do.

This latest slab of black metal comes in the form of an EP called Monarchy of Shadows. This time, they have jumped ship to Season of Mist. Some bands wouldn’t even bother with calling this an EP at 35 minutes and 6 tracks. That’s a full length for many.

With this being considered an EP, I expected Tombs to come out of the gate blasting. That takes about two minutes, as the intro track, which is also the title track, “Monarchy of Shadows,” takes that amount of time to get going. Once it does, though, it’s a banger. This song changes abruptly going from the intro into the meat of the track, then once again with about a minute-and-a-half left, making up a 7-minute plus opener that’s never boring.

Track 2, “Once Falls the Guillotine,” blasts through the speakers with no intro. Mike Hill’s vocals have a bit of a trade off with what I would call his Dracula/goth rock voice he sometimes employs with great impact.After this comes “Necro Alchemy,” and this song kills with a capital “K.” A few minutes into the song and you may be asking yourself why I feel this way. Well, dear reader I would advise waiting until there’s a little over 2 minutes left in the song, as it takes a spectacular turn into a deathcore breakdown, which transitions into a neck snapping riff, a short lead, then onward.

I must admit that I think “Necro Alchemy” ruined the rest of the album for me. This song is just so killer, hit me for the first time on a drive, and I may have started speeding a little. Maybe the album could have benefited from placing the strongest track (in my opinion) last, but that’s not what happened. So, with that in mind, it’s all a little disappointing from there. I have enjoyed everything they have released and enjoy Monarchy of Shadows more than anything previous. I truly do feel as though the track placement slowed the momentum.  This came so close to becoming their magnum opus, but it didn’t quite fulfill that promise. I like Tombs, I like this album, and I still look forward to the next one. Maybe next time, guys.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
March 13th, 2020


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