Red Skies And Dead Eyes

Written by: AP on 10/01/2014 23:31:53

Since its release some three months ago, Norwegian stoner doom fusionists' fourth album "Red Skies and Dead Eyes" has been raking up impressive reviews from various underground media. It goes without saying that Tombstones are a rather heavy proposition, the crushing density of their music accentuated by the trudging speed at which they play it. But just how lumbering their sound is might take even a hardened fan of chunky riffs by surprise.

The main riff which rolls in at 02:10 in opening track "Black Moon" is absolutely devastating, bearing a curious resemblance to Sleep's iconic "Dragonaut" - played beneath six feet of mud. Indeed, guitarist/vocalist Bjørn-Viggo Godtland has tuned his instrument to such abysses there are times its presence is virtually indistinguishable from the rumble of Ole Christian Helstad's bass (which itself is heavily downtuned), said riff providing an example of this. Mind you, where such dirge could with ease end in disaster, Tombstones have managed to harness the earth-rattling into a set of remarkable grooves that never drown in an overworked subwoofer. In fact, the riff upon which the standout "King of Daze" slogs in is nothing short of spectacular; the sort that roars "bang your fucking head!" without a word uttered. Its title is likely no coincidence given the initial kinship with High on Fire (who, on their latest album "De Vermis Mysteriis", have an excellent song entitled "King of Days"), and even less so when the song descends into a very Sleep-esque haze at the 02:00 mark. Where the song it puns had an epic grandeur to it, here that magnificence is veiled in a mist of dope smoke.

There's a touch of Greenleaf to the proceedings, too, as the groove laden "Obstfelder"(German for fruit fields) demonstrates with the most quintessentially stoner approach imaginable, tugging the listener through an ever intensifying fog of psychedelia for a good 7 minutes, before unloading a punishing slab of the raw doom for the comedown. "The Other Eye" continues from there but takes too long to unmask its gist amidst the droning and somehow too traditional doom. Fortunately is it the only weak track per se, with the namesake "Red Skies and Dead Eyes" delivering a much more imaginative rendition of it immediately after, and "Demon Cave" concluding the proceedings on a thick and unexpectedly melodic note that once again has me wondering if the weeks writing this beast of an album were spent listening to Matt Pike's repertoire on repeat.

With no prior knowledge of Tombstones, and thus no real expectations to cloud my judgment, this Norwegian trio could do little else than impress. That they have so much in common with Sleep is of course duly welcomed, as any inspiration distilled from what many would label the ultimate stoner rock band, if applied with the proper finesse, is bound to exact a positive influence on a band of such disposition as Tombstones. So if raw stoner doom of the Sleep school sounds up your alley, "Red Skies and Dead Eyes" is a must.


Download: King of Daze, Obstfelder, Red Skies and Dead Eyes
For the fans of: Devil, Greenleaf, High on Fire, Sleep
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.10.2013
Soulseller Records

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