Tomb Mold Sculpt Fully Dimensional Death Metal on 'Aperture of Body'

Tomb Mold Sculpt Fully Dimensional Death Metal on 'Aperture of Body'
Aperture of Body, a new three-track EP from Toronto death metal trendsetters Tomb Mold, arrives three years on from acclaimed third album Planetary Clairvoyance. For most bands, three years between releases is nothing out of the ordinary, but for fans of Tomb Mold, it felt like the band had entered suspended animation. Between their 2016 demos and Planetary, the band was consistently producing one EP and one LP per year, marking them as one of death metal's most prolific new acts.

While the band itself went quiet following the release of Planetary, members did not entirely disappear entirely off the grid. Drummer and vocalist Max Klebanoff's ambient noise project Death Kneel released a split with Moss Harvest in 2020. That same year, guitarist Derrick Vella took over bass duties in Pennsylvanian caveman death outfit Outer Heaven, performing on their live album Live at Saint Vitus Bar, 02-22-20, and the 2021 EP In Tribute. Vella also formed Dream Unending in that time, a doom act consisting of him and Justin DeTore (Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands), dropping their debut album Tide Turns Eternal in late 2021.

So, what can listeners expect after the main project's three years of dormancy? Tomb Mold's discography is characterized by cold and calculated evolution, shedding vestigial appendages and adapting new killing traits with each effort. Despite the leap in sound between their first demo and Planetary, these changes feel natural, and the ancestral amoebic organism can still be seen in the hulking apex predator.

In that regard, Aperture is a dramatic growth spurt for the band, one that seems to acknowledge the time between material. Fans will immediately clue in to the EP's more technical sound. Title track "Aperture of Body'' begins with a barrage of frantic fretwork that calls to mind the cascading licks of early technical pioneers like Atheist. Later, they become adorned with authoritative lead guitar work and solos, assaulting in waves like shards of glass caught in a hurricane. This gives way to passages of shifting tonal centres and syncopation akin to the weirder riffs churned out by Pestilence in the '90s, which translate to Tomb Mold perfectly. Experiencing the track's final modulating riff is like seeing a large set of jaws emerge from the darkness of a cave, gnashing their way toward you while you have nowhere to run.

Those uncanny riffs return on "Prestige of Rebirth," as do the scorching Chuck Schuldiner-inspired lines and articulate, Cynic-esque solos touched on in Planetary. They follow a furious, thrashy opening riff, guaranteed to incite moshing and circle pits from the first note. This new technical dimension never comes at the expense of the heaviness the band is known for. They know when to reign it in and let their Finnish death metal sensibilities ooze to the surface. The pummelling breakdown of "Prestige," for example, would feel right at home on their lumbering sophomore Manor of Infinite Forms. The band savour this moment of methodical violence, letting the guitars (which are dripping in effects) ring out, accenting them with ferocious drum fills. Likewise, the verse riff in "Aperture" is reminiscent of the tight, suffocating riffs heard on Planetary.

The most unexpected turn on Aperture is the clean outro of "Prestige," a passage that's a third of the song's six-minute runtime. The textural guitars sound like they're carried over from Vella's aforementioned doom act. This passage could also be interpreted as more of Tomb Mold's Cynic influence, which the fretless bass work strongly implies, as well as the jazzy phrasing and melodies. However, Klebanoff's loud, grim drumming gives it the feel of a doom interlude.

Tomb Mold's albums are thematically tied to space, such as the cavernous Manor and the cosmic Planetary. The space that ties Aperture together appears to be related to light. Once again, this seems like a natural evolution for the band. Their previous album took them from dark terrestrial realms to the vast depths of space. Now, they venture across dimensions.

"Light" is alluded to in both tracks in a way that links it to the self, like in "Prestige" ("Our toneless trance / Our selves disembodied by light / Immersed in the indistinguishable") and "Aperture" ("My being has opened, producing a contorted figure in the light / Now a deprived illusion of I"). Opening synth instrumental "Final Assembly Of Light" sets the stage for this theme tonally, as a deep, flickering drone out of '80s sci-fi lays the foundation for dungeon synth strings and choral sounds. It gives a sense of something cosmic and spectral.

Aperture of Body is Tomb Mold coming back in a big way. It's more of what the band's legions of thralls have come to crave, with enough new surprises to titillate the ritually adhered brain slugs feeding off their neurons. (Independent)