Review by Max Renn
Over a year ago, I had a conversation with the drummer from the now disbanded Ten Ton Friday. I asked him if he had played a bill with any local bands that weren’t following the current trends of either Sabbath-esque doom worship, or limp metalcore.
Scully, (the aforementioned drummer) reeled off a few names, including a band I hadn’t heard of at all: Tombstone Crow. Solid name I said, any good?
Heading to YouTube I found a solitary track called ‘Skulls (Decks of Hell)’. On first listen I was hooked, nothing around sounded like this yet their sound drew from many popular metal genres, particularly ‘groove metal’.
Tracking the bands output saw them release an EP, a self-published album (‘Shadows From The Grave’), they gigged regularly and even won a place at last years Bloodstock Festival. No small feat.
This year Tombstone Crow have started things with a bang right out of the gate: A new EP, titled ‘Dragged Under’.
The cover for the EP shows a Kraken-like beastie rising up from the depths of a stormy sea to engulf the lone inhabitant of a lighthouse. This grim nautical theme threads itself throughout the EP.
Title track ‘Dragged Under’ starts out with an atmospheric lead-in before bringing in the riffs. It’s here I notice the drum mix – the bass sounds really meaty, something some bands have eschewed in favour of a sound more like fingers tapping on a paper bag, this you can feel in your chest! Great!
The track continues with Debi Lisle bringing a more Slayer-like approach to the vocal delivery, Andy Bright delivers the customary heavy riffing and soaring guitar solos, which are also strangely uplifting in nature, joining Kev Nolan’s drum attack in further urging you to bang your head. The lyrics have a nice build to them, with the phrase “Taking over you!” being repeated.
Next up we have ‘Slave”. A lovely riff opens this track, repeating nicely and setting up a groovy feel before the lyrics begin. The track feels like a piratical sea-shanty at times, embellishing the nautical themes already present while again entrapping the listener to sing along, especially so with the chant of 1-2-5-9! A nice mellow lead out takes us into the next track.
‘Above the Tide’ launches straight in with aggression, with the cry of “Drink the barrels dry!”. The song continues until we reach a slower-paced interlude with contrasting, clean, whispered vocals, which begin to show the vocal range of Debi Lisle. This interleaves nicely with a soaring guitar solo before we dive back into the aggression.
The last track on the EP is ‘In the Name of Death’. This has a more hardcore beat to it, and brings forth comparisons to Slayer’s most recent album at times. This speed brings in some great thrash infused riffing later in the song, which pleased me greatly.
Tombstone Crow have a very strong EP here that really builds upon past work. The strength of musicianship has gelled with an obvious love for playing and also a love for metal.
The band certainly wear their influences on their sleeve, building upon a seeming love for what they like, before filtering it through the Crow lens and delivering it to the listener.
Comparing this EP to their past body of work, we have a slicker sense of production without anything being watered down. In fact things sound even heavier, richer and fuller. The songwriting aspect, particularly the pacing and phrasing of each track never fails in providing a catchy hook, riff, or snatch of vocals that you’ll repeat throughout your day, probably annoying friends, family, or co-workers!
‘Dragged Under’ is released on 25th January 2016 tombstone-crow.wix.com