Label: Spread Evil Productions
Release Date: 04 June 2021
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
Fourteen years after their formation, Finnish act T.O.M.E. (Tome of Misanthropical Experience) have released their debut full-length effort, simply titled “I-III”. The album delivers archaic, agonising, slow-to-mid tempo black metal permeated with torturous despair.
“I-III” runs for thirty-six minutes and as indicated by the title contains three tracks. Each track is a momentous journey and a test of your endurance, requiring inner strength to avoid succumbing to the devastating, tormentous onslaught.
Track “I” kicks things off with discordant and disorienting guitars that give way to solid riffing, before the arrival of a thick, hulking wall of corrupting sound. The vocals don’t emerge until six and a half minutes into the track, but once they do, the tone of the album is forever altered. The tortured, strained, anguished screams add a savage, perverse and disturbing air to the overall work.
The unsettling elements become amplified, the terror is cranked up a few notches and the off tones and discordance make more sense. The experience is similar to when you get your first glimpse of the monster in a horror movie, your senses heighten, you start to see things differently and you become hyper-aware of your surroundings. This track had me in a vice grip and is a stand-out for me.
Catchy but unconventional riffs open track “II”, which quickly evolves into twisted warped guitars and primal vocals. Again, the vocals transform the track and at times resemble a rabid beast howling into the night. Slow lumbering doom-esque drums pull the tempo back and then suddenly everything gives way to an unnerving ambient break that includes an array of distressing vocalisations such as: gasping, spluttering, wheezing, and hoarse exhalation. These small injections of eccentricity create a feeling of experimentalism, which makes for a fascinating experience.
Track “III” builds slowly with cacophonous guitars that ooze distortion and bathe the melodies in their thick shroud. Things pick up around the four minute mark with a switch in tempo and the incursion of the unrefined vocals. From here the drums maintain the pace and aggression for a few more minutes before the track winds down to an ambient drawl and finally closes out the album.
T.O.M.E.’s “I-III” is a powerful, untamed and raw experience. Each track has something primeval, crude or barbaric percolating to the surface which is both tantalising and terrifying. This combination had me mesmerised and hitting repeat over and over again. If you’d fancy a chilling trip to the dark edges of the Finnish black metal realm, then strap up your boots and get ready for the hike. I can only hope that you make it back in one piece. 7.5/10 Proua Metallist.
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