Label: Black Bow Records
Before we go too far in to this, let’s take a moment to talk about how important it is to get your band name and record title right. In both cases, it should be a statement or resonate in some way. Names like Slayer and Black Sabbath are effective because they so clearly indicate what the bands are aiming for with their music, even if the exact genre can’t always be deduced. Four-piece Un don’t so much understand this as they exemplify it. You don’t call your album The Tomb Of All Things without wanting to make it obvious that it’s going to be something heavy and bleak, crushing in its desolation. That’s exactly how this album plays out, its 53 minutes being devastating in their desolation and sorrow; but what the name doesn’t tell you is that there’s more here that just typical funeral doom fare. Nor does it convey the way that Un play with such conviction and emotion, ensuring that this is one tomb that keeps you buried, pulling you in to its clutches and not letting go.
Introductory track “Epigraph” offers the briefest of movements in which you can turn back: two and a half minutes luring the listener in, somewhere between post-metal and dark ambient in its sense of space and threat. It’s deceptive though, not preparing you for the moment when “Sol Marasmus” comes crashing in, bringing down the weight of its sorrow with perfectly executed funeral doom riffs at the slowest of tempos. And then when the vocals make themselves known, with their deep, death metal growls summoned up from the deepest blackness, it’s practically impossible not to have the hair on the back of your neck start to rise. The guitar lines that come in, hovering majestically above the tar-like riffs, add an extra emotional dimension to the music, and it’s something that most bands of this ilk miss. There is only so long one can be pummeled by sorrow and slowness before it becomes too exhausting, and Un ensure they avoid that trap.
This is also helped by the way that there’s more influences at play here than just playing as slow and heavy as humanly possible. There’s moments when the music really scales back as if in retreat, giving the remaining elements – usually guitar lines – space in which to really shine, and demonstrates a post-metal influence at work that, when combined with the doom metal, is incredibly striking. It also helps to ensure that, when the band do turn the volume and intensity back up, it comes across as much louder and stronger than it otherwise would.
Not that Un need to scale back their doom to inspire emotion. “Forgotten Path” is a majestic example of just how glorious and emotional funeral doom can be, not feeling nearly as long as its 14 minute duration actually is, wrapping the listener in a cocoon of sorrow that is strangely appealing. “Through The Luminous Dusk” proves that this is no one-off, and builds upon some of the post-metal elements introduced earlier in the album, most notably around the 3:30 mark, with subtle, restrained drums beneath evocative guitar and bass lines that leads in to a glorious, undeniably metal guitar solo.
It’s with the closing title track, though, that the full scale of what Un have achieved becomes clear. An immense monolith of doom and post-metal, it takes all that has gone before it and somehow amplifies it to devastating emotional effect; there’s even moments which touch upon the grandeur of Cascadian black metal. With it, there is no denying what should have been obvious before now: The Tomb Of All Things is one of the doom albums of the year, an absolute triumph for funeral doom, staying true to the spirit of the genre whilst integrating some outside influences to achieve fantastic results. It may be emotionally exhausting, but that’s the point of albums like this: there is catharsis to be found in this darkness. If you’re at all in to doom, this album is practically essential.
The Tomb Of All Things is available to order through Black Bow Records.