Tombs represents what Brooklyn used to be, not so long ago. This is the borough that spawned some incredible music from those who rose up by working their ass off. Reticent of the the rough and gritty Downtown area rife with the stench of stale Parliament cigarettes is the Tombs origin story. Here, mainman Mike Hill just never stopped working and never stopped expressing himself through his art. As such, while Tombs prepares for the next chapter in their storied history, they present us with an EP that undoubtedly embodies the Tombs ethic and ethos. Ex Oblivion is a blue collar banger for a blue collar audience.
Let's start with the opening track. There is an unmistakable resemblance to Celtic Frost in "Ex Oblivion," with Hill channeling the great Tom G. Warrior in both his voice and cadence. Bassist Drew Murphy gives the track a hefty extra dose of oomph with a totally banging bassline that has just the perfect amount of punch on it. There's a bit of goth here, perhaps a touch of Sisters of Mercy, and it's nested in a clear post-metal undercurrent. It's a really tight composition that really captures the essence of the band. By the way, the mix and the overall production on this track is something special.
"Killed By Death" is a cover of the Motörhead classic. You might remember the video from the early days of MTV. If you don't remember it, or you weren't alive in 1984, you definitely want to check it out. While even the past episodes of Stranger Things can't take us totally back in time, this video reminds me of this most amazing decade. It also, is perhaps, one of the Motörhead's greatest artistic masterpieces and the video has a little bit of everything. If I had a time machine, I'd be back there in heartbeat. Also, Type O Negative fans, check out the scene that begins at 3:13. You might see a very familiar shot.
Tombs' take on this song is a bit darker but still contains a hefty dose of swagger, a big bottom end and just the perfect touch of updated sounding guitars. In general, it stays pretty close to the original but has an accessibility for today's younger audiences who, sadly, were not around in the gloriousness of 1984.
"Commit Suicide" like "Killed by Death" is a cover that doesn't stray too far away from the original. "Commit Suicide" was originally recorded by GG Allin on the classic FFD&J record from 1988. Hill's voice is a bit distant in the mix, which is appropriate given the original and the fact that GG's voice was getting extremely raspy in the late 80's as substances and poor health took their toll on his vocals. What will stick out, of course, is the production on this cover which is way above the original. This would be a great tune for Tombs to play live. We certainly, however, could do without any extra-curricular activities that involve bananas.
The EP also contains two more atmospheric tracks to close it out, one of which was composed in tandem with Dwid Hellion of Integrity.
Overall, this is a solid release and something great to hold us all over until we get the next Tombs LP. If you failed to check out Under Sullen Skies, which came out in 2020 (a very sullen year), it really is quite good. With a strong nod to Lemmy Kilmister, Tombs is a hard working band and they keep on chugging along churning out some stellar rock and roll that reminds us of the way we once were.