Black Metal, Metal

Sumerian Tombs – Sumerian Tombs (Review)

Band:Sumerian Tombs
Album:Sumerian Tombs
Genre:Black Metal
Release Date:18th of March, 2022
Released via:Ván Records
Coverart:Ben Harff

At the end of last year, the crypts in the center of Mesopotamia were opened for the first time already with Sumerian Tombs‘ demo release As Sumer Thrones at Night that brought you searing, raw Black Metal with ferocious lead melodies yet also staggering slow elements. When I wrote about the demo, I already knew that a full-length was going to follow and after having fallen for the sound of Sumerian Tombs, I was eager to find out what this sound was going to be like on an entire album.

Sumerian Tombs is a 5-member Vampyric Epic Black Metal outfit from West Germany that came up with a pretty strong demo to start with that was released on 1st of December, 2021. Afterwards, the dungeon synth EP Conjuration – Awakening followed that was used for benefitial purpose. Now, only about four months after the demo, the full-length arrives and convinces you by storm again.

Similar to As Sumer Thrones At Night, there is an opener that has you breathe in before entering this full-length. The first track “Enter the Netherrealm” introduces you with a mystic yet majestic dungeon synth sound combining an organ and a piano before hell breaks loose. The first track “Bloodspell of the Ancients” then instanly showcases that there is considerable progression from demo to full-length. This time, the searing guitar tone does not initially cut through the mix when diving into the sound of Middle Eastern sepulchres. On their demo, Sumerian Tombs already mentioned the epic aspect of their music yet this element was only occasionally present, on the opener of their full-length, though, the epic sound instantly becomes evident.

With no time for an intro, crushing Black Metal instantly hits you. Right away, the epic sound catches you that is constructed via several different elements. First of all, the interplay between the guitars and the synths is very impressive, especially regarding the fact that the production finds that exact spot at which the keys do not annoy within the sound yet find all their impact. Apart from that, especially the layered vocals bringing you Black Metal screams in the front yet clean vocals a little more subtle in the back are an element that raise the majestic level and will cause you to keep this track in your head for days. On top of that, the guitars also instantly jump right into a very cathartic tone at some points reminding of some of your most favorite USBM representatives which goes damn well with the rest of the sound. All in all, it feels like 2nd Wave Black Metal all the way while subtlely bearing a trait reminiscent of 1st Wave Black Metal at its most epic phases.

If you were waiting for these fast lead melody riffs on “Blood Gods Rise to Power” from the demo but felt disappointed with the different sound on the first tracks, don’t stop right here and just continue until you reach “Altars of the Past.” The opening riff that is carried throughout the entire track is one of the absolute highlights on this album – same goes for the track itself. Apart from the strong melodies and ferocious Black Metal sound, the riffing is soaked in this subliminal Middle Eastern vibe that is carried on the entire track. During the verses, the guitars continue keeping up that style with the riffing behind the vocals and when kicking back into the melody you’re fully in it again. The entire arrangement of this track keeps you stuck from front to back, jumping between blast sounds, mid-tempo parts and ever-changing riffing with a guitar sound that is at the very highest of distortion and always coming back to a highly memorable chorus – I could simply bathe in this track for days.

Additionally, the slower spheres that were also present on the demo are also again hearable on this album as on “Light of Death” that showcases intense drumming right next to a slower playstyle. Especially during the second half of the track, drumming and synths construct a dense atmosphere of a summoning and the emphasis of the low frequency of the toms has them all over the place during this sequence conveying that very ritualistic feeling.

After a short dungeon synth-esque interlude with “Transcending the Veil,” the final track “Vampyric Dominance” then finishes off this record perfectly. After opening without taking a breath and at a similar speed as “Altars of the Past,” this track eventually once more combines everything that is striking on this album. At this point, though, the riffing feels slightly less cathartic when compared to the beginning of the album. The Middle Eastern vibe progressively overtakes after having reached the middle of the album. On “Vampyric Dominance,” the epic drive once more finds its way to the forefront with more vocals that are somewhere in between screaming and clean vocals while Black Metal overtakes you. In the middle of this track, Sumerian Tombs then also add utterly intense clean vocals by guest vocalist Vlad (The Crimson Ghosts) that kick you right out of the convenience you might have built up while listening. After this brilliantly arranged sequence, the album soaringly finds its way to an end.

To be honest, I am no friend of talking about single tracks in a review as if discussing every track one after another. However, on this album it felt difficult to convey a general feeling that is present since it seems to be very individual depending on the track you’re listening to. What you can get, though, is contained in the genre definition of the band already. It definitely is Black Metal with epic and vampyric elements – both are sometimes more sometimes less salient on the tracks. Especially the synths that remain in the background almost the entire time when not being highlighted on interludes are the element that perfectly construct both that epic as well as vampyric vibe that brings you the individual character of this album.

There is a vinyl version via Ván Records that is going to see a black and a golden pressing. When writing this, the black pressing is sold out already yet the there is still some golden vinyl left. Apart from that, though, there is also going to be an 8-track tape release via Helhallen that might be interesting especially to those of you that favored the demo specifically because of its tone.

Sumerian Tombs – Sumerian Tombs (black/yellow pressing) – picture by Armillus Maggog

All in all, I was eagerly waiting for this release and I have to admit that expectations were fulfilled and above. Everything that was present on the demo was there again on the full-length. The entire sound of Sumerian Tombs was highly refreshing and is going to be stuck in your head for days.

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