The Future Arrives Early
Originally conceived as a low-stress throwback project, prolific Canadian death metal crew Tomb Mold haven’t pressed pause since plugging into their mutagen-riddled amplifiers. They’ve released demos, EPs, and now a trio of full-length records in an impressive splatter of activity over the past three-plus years. But Tomb Mold have proven they can go all-in on quantity without sacrificing quality, culminating in last year’s Manor of Infinite Forms claiming the 17th spot on this publication’s top albums list.
Less than a year later, we have Planetary Clairvoyance, another batch of twisted bashers that balance next-dimension technicality and terminal-brain cell brutality. While the band spawned from idolization of early ’90s Finnish heavy-hitters, their third LP doesn’t gaze longingly to Helsinki’s revered past or thieve DNA from Demilich’s Nespithe. Sure, Tomb Mold’s take on death metal still crawls out of Abhorrence’s vortex; Depravity’s phantasmagoric riffs and Adramelech’s gripping darkness still cling to their diseased dermis. But Tomb Mold flex their numerous limbs in album opener “Beg for Life”—seismic groove, deep-space atmospherics, cosmic shredding and even Max Klebanoff growling atop clean guitars.
As the first of two Planetary Clairvoyance songs the band demoed and played live last fall, the title track is a multi-chaptered crusher concocted in a lab for maximum windmilling. Part of Tomb Mold’s allure is that they don’t sneer at the primal appeal of a Neanderthal riff. While channeling Cianide’s heft, Tomb Mold have integrated technical prowess seamlessly. If anything, the death-doom of “Cerulean Salvation” and pit-worthy slams of first single “Infinite Resurrection” ground the record between intergalactic pursuits.
The album squeezes the nutrients out of nanoseconds so consistently that three-minute interlude “Phosphorene Ultimate” is an outlier. Halting the album’s momentum less than a third of the way into the record may frustrate some. Count me among them upon first listen. But I’d compare it to the Bloodborne and Dark Souls RPGs that have inspired some Tomb Mold lyrics. Sometimes you need to introduce eerie calmness to truly sell the impending jump scare.
On their Cerulean Salvation demo, the following text was printed on the tape sleeve: “The azure of the heavens is perfect, beautiful…” While there may be blue skies above Toronto, it’s just a thin veil hiding the uncompromising terror of outer space that sprawls beyond. Whether it’s David Cronenberg’s body horror or the otherworldly cosmic terror described by their favorite Finns, Tomb Mold have repurposed their adoration of death metal and sci-fi/horror media. You don’t need to see the clustered release dates to appreciate the passion the duo-turned-quartet emanate on each recording—but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt.
Here’s hoping my theory remains accurate: The only thing shorter than guitarist Derrick Vella’s gig-day shorts is the wait between Tomb Mold albums.