01. Introspection I 02. Condemned to a Life of Grief 03. In This Empty Space 04. Introspection II 05. Where No Warmth is Found 06. As Black Forms From Grey 07. Awake Into Eternal Slumber
The lines between metal subgenres are blurred with such persistent frequency these days that it often seems unfair to saddle a new band with any kind of definitive description. So let's just say that TÓMARÚM are extreme, progressive and wonderfully, indulgently epic. "Ash in the Realms of Stone Icons" is an admirably ambitious debut, boasting five expansive and pitiless tracks and two grandiloquent interludes, but it's the maximalist ferocity that this band are pumping out that grabs the attention first. "Condemned to a Life of Grief" is an outrageous opening track: a ten-minute journey through a suffocating wall of guitars, synths and animalistic howls, it would be exhausting if it wasn't so stupidly exciting.
In truth, TÓMARÚM are not making music for fair-weather extreme metal fans. "In This Empty Space" confirms an uncompromising ethos, via another devastating torrent of ornate noise. There are plenty of melodies piercing the swirling maelstrom, each one as sharp as a razor, but the band's delivery is as muscular and unrelenting as it gets, occasional bursts of gloopy fretless bass notwithstanding.
Nonetheless, fine details are in abundance: from the glistening sky-dew synthesizers that evoke orchestral pomp in the background, to a steady stream of majestic lead breaks that seem impervious to cliché, TÓMARÚM have the imagination to match their ambition. Despite the unrelenting attack of its first four minutes, "Where No Warmth is Found" is a deceptively elaborate and prog-friendly thing, with cascading piano and a dark fog of melancholy woven seamlessly into the arrangement. "As Black Forms From Grey" goes even further, with slower tempos used to murderous effect and an exhilarating final crescendo that, again, is outrageous in its intensity.
In one sense, "Ash in the Realms of Stone Icons" is a genuinely immersive experience. The closing "Awake Into Eternal Slumber" is an extraordinary 15 minutes of monumental violence, deep and dense enough to get lost in. A brief moment of respite ushers forth at the eight-minute mark, but the oasis soon evaporates and TÓMARÚM return to all-out war and an audacious succession of almighty riffs. As it comes to an unexpected melodic conclusion, listeners may find themselves feeling slightly concussed. In a good way.
The underground has no shortage of intrepid adventurers, and TÓMARÚM certainly tick a few post-metal and progressive boxes on their debut. But "Ash in the Realms of Stone Icons" goes harder, faster and with more swivel-eyed zeal than most like-minded bands could dream about. This is dark art, delivered by sledgehammer.
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