Album: Chaotic Devotion
Label: Boris Records
Genre: Thrash/Death Metal
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Tombstalker are a three piece thrash/death metal crossover band hailing from Lexington, Kentucky in the US. Originally formed by lead vocalist and guitarist known as Conqueror Horus, bassist Defiler and drummer Basilisk, this trio has continued to wreak their own brand of bloody havoc since releasing their first demo in early 2009. Now while some may see the kind of image that Tombstalker use as cheesy or corny, there does seem to be a strange atmosphere of authenticity, especially when watching one of their live videos online. This band manages to encaptivate the fury and evil of black metal bands like Gorgoroth and Behemoth, while also combining the riff laden fury of death metal bands such as Morbid Angel and Deicide, and even newer death metal bands like Venom Prison. Tombstalker also bring in traces of thrash into their ferocious whirlwind of sound.
On their latest release entitled “Chaotic Devotion”, which is a two track EP, the band go on to further develop their sound, with there being a huge death metal vibe that takes over on both tracks. Looking back on the band’s first full length release from 2015 entitled “Black Crusades”, and comparing it to this new EP, not many gleaming differences shine through. While the playing may have become a little more technical and tightly laid down, we are still having blackened death metal thrown at us (not that I’m complaining). And while it is good to hear a band building on what they already have, I would have liked to see a little development, considering the band has been together for 8 years. But let’s get down do it. I’ll try and give as much detail as I can about both of the tracks, without being too boring I hope.
The first track on this release entitled “Scared to Death” is an absolute hell raiser, kicking off with a four count into a lead melodic riff which makes a nice change from the usual death metal low end chunk that we are usually greeted with. When the vocals kick in at around the minute and a half mark, we’re really shown the power that this band is capable of. The vocals from singer Conqueror Horus take on a Nails/power-violence type vibe, and in the best way possible, sound how I would expect Pennywise the Clown to sound if he was into death metal. This opener reeks of evil, which is everything your average black/death metal fan will be looking for. The production on this EP is also stellar. All the instruments are well balanced with each other, and the vocals cut through just enough without dominating the entire sound. This opening track also really exhibits the sheer ferocity that oozes from this band like tar. The good production and excellent playing ability combined with vocals so evil King Diamond would cringe in fear create one hell of a monster.
Now, while I really want to give this track an absolutely gleaming review, there’s one thing stopping me from doing so. My key problem is that there is no variety in this song. It is literally the same melodic riff combined with some ride and snare on the drums. There’s no variety in the song structure or the instrumentation, so the song doesn’t actually feel like it goes anywhere. Not that this is always bad, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But sometimes I like a bit of spice in my curry, y’know? A track can quickly become very boring for me if it doesn’t go anywhere, and this unfortunately happens to be one of those tracks.
The second track on the EP is entitled “Treads of War”, and takes on quite a different approach in comparison to the first track. The intro could easily take place in any hardcore song with a two-step part, before those ferocious vocals kick in, accompanied by a riff way more evil than anything that made an appearance previously. I feel that this track is where Tombstalker really got into their element and completely destroyed any previous doubts that arose with “Scared to Death”. This song also feels like it has a much stronger thrash influence, with an Exodus/Testament vibe really hitting us.
We’re also treated to a flashy guitar solo around three minutes into the track, giving us a taste of what Conqueror Horus can do with that axe of his. Not long after this though, the track is brought to an abrupt end with a repeat of the main riff which sounds like hitting a brick wall. All in all, quite a fun track to listen to in comparison with the first, which is disappointing as I was hoping for two excellent tracks, but instead was left with just one.
Overall, I feel like this EP is great but also not so great. As I’ve said previously, the first track was repetitive and didn’t really hit the spot like I had expected/wanted it to. The second track however was a complete curveball and hit me right between the eyes like Phil Anselmo on crack. Despite me not having great things to say about this particular EP, do not let that fool you into thinking that Tombstalker are not a band worthy of your time. They are undoubtedly a ferocious band that I could see playing with bigger bands like Behemoth or Deicide, this EP just isn’t particularly a good representation of the band at their strongest. I would still recommend that people give it a listen though, especially if you are new to the band and want to get a grasp for what Tombstalker are all about. I mean, you could just Google it, but why not annoy the neighbours with some good old thrashy blackened death metal? I recommend it.
1. Scared to Death
2. Treads of War
Total Playing Time: 7:50