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Tombstones - "Year Of The Burial" (CD)

Tombstones - "Year Of The Burial" CD cover image

"Year Of The Burial" track listing:

1. Unveiling (6:40)
2. Silent Voice (4:33)
3. Quintessential (7:15)
4. Egypt (7:58)
5. Year Of The Burial (7:06)
6. Sabbathian (6:03)

Reviewed by on May 22, 2012

"Three albums in and the band lies in the murky depths of obscurity, and 'Year Of The Burial' should do little to sway that."

Fuzzy riffs are abound on the third album from Norwegian stoner metal group Tombstones, “Year Of The Burial.” These songs agonize and turn the wheel at a dejected pace, never getting far outside a hazy, slow-as-maple syrup tempo. What the greats like Sleep and Kyuss did with their stoner sound was inject a druggy, self-induced numbness onto the listener. Tombstones, on the other hand, injects a plodding, self-induced coma onto anybody brave enough to give “Year Of The Burial” a test run.

So what’s to expect from the six songs on “Year Of The Burial”? Lots of slow-churning riffs, inspired by bands like Black Sabbath and the aforementioned Sleep, and long pauses between each of them. Drone doom bands hold on extended notes for a greater purpose, but Tombstones does it to fill out space in a song. These songs go from one point to the next, yet the excitement level is kept to a minimum. It could be because of a lack of faster speeds, which only come about near the end of “Quintessential” and “Egypt.”

It’s not that these songs are predictable, but they jump from one idea to the next in a way that many could conceive as “inevitable.” The element of surprise is exposed, and the listener can only sit back and try to enjoy the obvious. The title track does something the other tracks fail to attempt; a coherent build-up that pays off at the end. After a few minutes of thundering rhythm playing, the guitar comes back in and the band fills out the last section of the track with a blaze of passion.

With an emphasis on loud bass and enough distortion to fill up the Grand Canyon, Bjorn-Viggo Godtland’s vocals are left to wander in the distance. His clean shouts match the tone of the music, but they almost seem second fiddle to the music. Sometimes, they push their way to the front, and bassist Ole Christian Helstad contributes decent backing vocals to the title track. Vocals are not the primary resource Tombstones goes back to, but an abundant pile of unclean melodies and a smokey atmosphere.

Stoner metal fans may have a difference of opinion about “Year Of The Burial,” but even they will find that seven minutes of Tombstones is enough for one day, let alone 40 minutes. There isn’t anything technically wrong with the album, and the band gets the fuzzy atmosphere down to a step-by-step process. There’s just nothing worth settling back into once “Year Of The Burial” finishes up. Three albums in and the band lies in the murky depths of obscurity, and “Year Of The Burial” should do little to sway that.

Highs: Decent riffs scattered about, the title track and "Egypt" evoke a little excitement to the album

Lows: Plods along with limited punch, very little memorable about the song, more boring than engrossing

Bottom line: An average stoner metal album that has the excitement of watching C-SPAN for an hour.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)