Published Jun 16, 2017You can't tell just by listening to it, but The Grand Annihilation is the most independent record Mike Hill has made under the Tombs moniker. He wrote all the music and lyrics, recorded most of the instruments himself, and worked with a tight team of friends and collaborators to craft a dense and personal exploration of how individuals and civilizations transition between eras.
While much of the music sounds rather grim, the apocalyptic imagery on the album is actually used to frame positive notions of growth and rejuvenation. Hill employs more of the melodic vocal style he has been playing with over the band's past few releases on tracks like "Way of the Storm" and "Walk With Me in Nightmares," adding another authorial facet to the band's narrative structures and carefully curated riffs.
The songs themselves go through subtle evolutions, shifting their textures and details while maintaining a distinct identity. "Saturnalian" begins as a driving, post-punk-inspired rock song featuring an uncanny guitar riff that builds towards a brief crescendo of double-kick blasts before the rug is pulled out, while closing track "Temple of Mars" employs the same kind of momentum; Hill's vocals gain a throaty edge as the instrumentation swells up behind him, giving way to one of the most harmonically beautiful and rhythmically crushing breakdowns Tombs have ever produced.
The Grand Annihilator is incredibly cohesive, and takes advantage of a warm, organic production style to showcase Hill's personal philosophies, not to mention the auteur's skill for song craft and arrangement. Ten years in, Tombs have never sounded so clearheaded and disciplined. (Metal Blade)