If you have been following the heavy music scene of late, you have no doubt noticed the heartening proliferation of bands paying allegiance to the proto-metal sound of the early ’70s, beyond the (admittedly gargantuan, and I mean that in every sense of the word) wellspring afforded by the ’70s Sabbath catalog. The spirits of fuzzed out heavy blues monoliths forged by bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, Blue Cheer, Mountain, Atomic Rooster and Jerusalem, and the psychedelic space-rock liturgies of early Hawkwind and Budgie are being resurrected in heavier, grittier avatars and oh boy, is it good!
Tombstoned’s self-titled debut full length is a 47 minute opus that combines the ethos of the fuzzy, groovy, heavy rock of the ’70s pioneers with the massive, crushing dirge of more comtemporary Scandinavian doom bands like Reverend Bizarre and Witchcraft (or Greenleaf, if you, like me, think Witchcraft’s last album was a sore disappointment). Album opener “Through Days” is a mammoth groove-laden stomp that wouldn’t have felt out of place on either II:Crush the Insects OR Vincebus Eruptum. “The End” and “Rat Race” alternate between slow, ponderous sections and fuzzed-out blues gallops with stunning ease .”Faded” is the the most ‘doom’ sounding track on the record, channeling the low ‘n’ slow essence of “In the Rectory” era Reverend Bizarre (certainly helps that vocalist Jussi’s vocal style is redolent of Albert Witchfinder’s, especially on “The End”) and even shades of Witch’s eponymous debut S/T album. “Daze of disintegration” is a bit of an oddball, sounding the end result of an LSD-binge jam between Hawkwind, Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer (with industrial percussion, even!). The closer “Last Waltz” is a 11 and a half minute epic that opens with an almost old-western sounding intro and heads into a full-blown dirge. This song draws more from bands of the southern/desert rock movement like Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age and is probably the most different sounding track on the album.
The album is sure to appeal to fans of heavy rock/stoner doom and is certainly a testament to Tombstoned’s growing prowess (something already bolstered by an endorsement by none less than Jus Oborn!). This is right up there with Goatess and Clutch’s 2013 releases, both of which have set the bar for heavy rock albums this year.