Review – Greytomb: Monumental Microcosm

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  • Bio: "Greytomb purvey dark, atmospheric black metal, with themes based upon states of consciousness, Metaphysics and Nihilism." - Bandcamp
  • Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
  • Release Date: December 19th, 2027
  • Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal, Grindcore
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Originally formed under the name Subterranean Drilling Machine in 2013, Greytomb officially came to life through a proper name change in 2015. The now three-member outfit composed of current members from Adamus Exul, Ordnance, and ex-Wreak have been lurking about the depths of the underground for a little while now as an atmospheric black metal act, releasing their 2015 one-song demo The Mourning Field and debut full-length A Perpetual Descent a year later through Bandcamp. For 2017, the tides have changed with Transcending Obscurity Records releasing their latest EP Monumental Microcosm to wrap up the year. But does this effort offer a truly blackened experience, or does it fail to hit the mark on setting the proper mood for its chosen style?

Monumental Microcosm is billed in the press release as being “thought-provoking and invigorating” with music that “traverses through territories knowm and unknown” to the listener, scattered across three brand new extensive performances. There’s a hint of a number of elements at play to build up the lyrics that sprawl from nihilistic to metaphysical, incorporating the aforementioned atmospheric approach with depressive black metal, subtle folk hints, and plenty of blastbeats clearly inspired by the initial grindcore style of the once solo entity that existed prior to the name change. Consider mixtures of Vintersorg tone, current Wolves in the Throne Room landscapes (though not quite as grand), and even some fiery aggression similar to Behemoth. While good contextually, the final product doesn’t always reach your expectations.

No, Monumentsl Microcosm isn’t a bad release, but it definitely isn’t all that engrossing at first. “Null” utilizes plenty of slower, echoing melodies against a steady mid-paced performance often feeling more like a black metal outing from Greece or something one commonly would consider inspired by “cavernous” death metal releases thanks largely to the deep growls that just aren’t as intimidating as they need to be. It’s mostly due to the fact that such a presence almost requires more of an analog sound than the crisper, digital one we get on this EP. The suddern jump to grinding blind fury thankfully doesn’t melt the colder astral plain the first two minutes established, lasting only a short while before a blend of raspy ritualistic vocals and cries overtake the effort for that folksy, somewhat proggy tone. The whole composition jumps around between these ideas that struggle to hold the listener’s attention after a while, though come together nicely at the end to lure you back in for the rest, though not enough to urge you to revisit this one in particular.

Greytomb“Force Majeure” finds itself a bit more of an eccentric offering with additional layered rasps that offer up the bite “Null” was sorely lacking. As if a trip inside one’s own mind whilest on an altered trip, you find yourself in a state of unease as you are drug along with it kicking and screaming despite how receptive you may be. Eventually, what burning light that remains is snuffed out for a deep cosmic float among a pitch black canvas, taking in the vast emptiness and accompanying voices all around you. Atmospherically, this is one of the stronger of the three, leaving you to feel jilted, alone, and even antagonized amongst the stars.

“Antimeta”, however, stands as a different type of beast all together. The slower melodic leads compliment the superb drumming that shifts from pure fury to infectious groove-laden restraint, shifting between heated aggression and a pale glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless world, something ripped away about half-way through as you lay smouldering in the crater that was the impact zone from your own fall from grace. A reflective conclusion that initially holds you down mercifully starts building you back up, aiding you in brushing off the debris as you face the crumbled world before you, ushering in a rebirth of both physical and mental status. The only gripe here stems from the falsetto wails that seem like that of King Diamond inspiration, but ultimately come off a bit too whiny for an otherwise fantastic performance that shows where the group’s true strengths lie and should be further nurtured.

GreytombAs a whole, Monumental Microcosm has its faults, especially at the start, but when the band really sink into their strengths they can pull out some fantastically memorable material. Whether its hunkering down in a long-lasting fridgid night sky or a self-deprecating hatred that forces mind-altering inner realizations (the latter of which vastly more enjoyable than the former), Greytomb prove thery can stand on their own. It’s just unfortunate the more progressive mess of “Null” not only doesn’t set the best first impression if this is your introduction to the trio, but also kind of a blemish that shows a band still confused about their path in this life, something largely contradicted by the two tracks that follow. That said, this new EP is one worth checking out, but don’t let those first nearly eleven minutes turn you away…

GreytombDigital review copy of this release provided by Transcending Obscurity Records.