One step forward and one step back seems to be a strange way to run a band, but it’s important to make you aware that this was the approach perhaps unintentionally taken by Tomb Mold in the chronology of their releases.
“Primordial Malignity” was preceded by the excellent second demo “The Moulting” that the band self released last year, but that second demo was actually written and recorded after “Primordial Malignity” had been completed.
Still with me?
So the musical chronology should really run “The Bottomless Perdition” demo, “Primordial Malignity” lp and “The Moulting” demo if you’re feeling pedantic.
However be it through circumstance or a burst of creativity I know not, but it’s strange to consider this recording may be the first introduction to the band for some.
Flatulent Fuzz Out
Now that’s out of the way, an ominous synth swirl leads us straight into the Demilich infused blast of “They Grow Inside” and it’s immediately clear that while they’re working within an established framework, Tomb Mold have taken some care to ensure this isn’t just another in the long and ever expanding line of “old school” death metal albums waiting to be ignored.
For one thing the guitar tone is slightly out there – far twangier than the heavy saturation one might have expected, with the string-based filth coming from the kind of flatulent, fuzzed out bass underneath.
It’s a small detail but one that works wonders by separating them from the HM2 crowd (though it’s to be noted that really, few of the Finnish bands the band are drawing from used those traditionally Swedish/Norwegian trademarked pedals).
Ah yes, the Finnish influence.
The band have made much of it themselves but it’s really something that to the non-trainspotters will make zero difference. If, however you’re old enough to have cherished the likes of Purtenance, Demigod, Disgrace, Pestigore et al, you’ll be impressed with how well the band have nailed this particular overlooked but tiny niche.
Songs like “Coincidence of Opposites” capture that kind of fiddly, “Symphonies of Sickness”and Bolt Thrower inspired feel but really it’s Sentenced around the time of “Shadows from Past” that really come to mind.
This works both for and against them.
It’s a limited gene pool in some ways, without many of the defining and generic characteristics of, say Sweden’s Sunlight era, which means the attempts at authenticity are carried out within a tight and somewhat limited framework.
This, however, does at the same time force them to use their imagination a little more than a band simply aping Entombed.
There’s an excellent early one/two punch that takes in “Bereavement of Flesh” and the excellent “Merciless Watcher” which is the peak of the album.
This duo shows a band with a knack for the tightrope balance of viscerality and songwriting nous. “Merciless Watcher” in particular is a stormer, and easily one of the best death metal tracks you’ll hear in 2017, kicking in with a simple but triumphant riff and storming along at a stalking pace.
It’s utterly deprived of filler and sets a bench mark for the rest of the album.
The latter half of the album, however, that knack for distinctive and catchy riffage does dissipate somewhat and the likes of “Twisted Trail” or the title track rage along just fine, with some nice little twists here and there in the former, but simply don’t quite reach the heights of the first half, the songs feeling a little more interchangeable.
Closer “Vernal Grace” oddly opens with a riff that I swear is the one from Acid Reign’s “Humanoia”, but it’s slower latter half has another fantastic moment of guitar melody in it’s dying moments before the fog returns.
Had two or three songs been shaved off and this been released as a second demo, it would have been stellar, and this is again why the unusual timeline bears considering.
“The Moulting” really is their finest work to date and beckons for a bright future. As it stands though, “Primordial Malignity” is a respectable debut full length with a couple of moments of genuine greatness early on. And crucially it’s a release that serves now as an illustration of their progress.
A band to continue to watch.
3.1/5 – Jamie Grimes ::: 31/01/17