Doom metal has a long and storied history in the British Isles. From the first rumblings of BLACK SABBATH decades before catering and specialty festivals like London Desert Festivalthe UK’s appreciation for the slow riff has been a cornerstone of our heavy music scene. TOMBS LINES know all this too well. Although the London-based band have long used doom tropes as the foundation of their sound, in reality their soundscape is much more multifaceted through the incorporation of ambient, gothic and melancholy-infused passages; as shown on the third album Communion.
“WWe always take into consideration things that have an overall flow and don’t feel too disparate, but at the end of the day, all of those other elements that come through are just as important as the heavy/doom sections,” the vocalist explains. Jacques Harding as we begin to dive into their elaborate sound ecosystem. “From its inception, we wanted this group to be less constrained in this way and leave plenty of room to let things develop in different directions and morph naturally.” Guitarist Olive Hill adds: “I think the surprising thing about how we felt about the incredibly multifaceted nature of these songs is that we were totally confident to express ourselves with total freedom, using a musical vocabulary that covers our motley influences. .”
Although a myriad of influences and contrasting elements may seem cumbersome on paper, on their third album, TOMBS LINES achieving cohesion and immersion with aplomb, easily navigating the hurdle of Third Album Syndrome. In the four years since their last release, 2018 Powered by the nihilistic engine, the band’s lineup changed and evolved, with new staff members walking through the door, which had a direct impact on their hugely expansive sound that is present today. “There have been so many changes and challenges since that last album. Julia Charlotte Cooper [drums] is now a mother and she left the band after making the very difficult decision to start a family with her husband away from the hustle and bustle of London,” Olivier said. “Sat Hunt was an obvious and very capable replacement. I feel like our style was inevitably changed a lot by her involvement in the writing process. Our whole psyche as a band has changed and the way we communicate, write and attack the stage. It gave us an exciting new palate to work with and hopefully the album will show how well we work together.
“Line-up changes inevitably have an impact on how the music develops,” James adds. “But I think we’ve always had a vested interest in progressing, experimenting and trying new ideas and that has certainly continued over the past few years as we intend to move forward.”
As is the case with bands around the world, the impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns over the past two years have turned the music world upside down. With touring and live performances killed in their tracks and the mental toll of isolation, they turned into albums galore. Although the lockdown had a direct impact on their creative process (“much of this LP was indeed affected by the lockdown restrictions during covid”), the general theme of isolation explored throughout Communion is more a coincidence than a direct influence. “I guess there was something appropriate in the moment”, James explains “For me, these kinds of internal conflict themes have always been at the heart of TOMBS LINES Songs. More specifically, the theme of this album is something that I have always found interesting. The contradictions that are present in our existence. This need for connection that we all feel but can only really be realized superficially. We never really know what the other is thinking or feeling. We all have impressions on each other, but the person we perceive as someone and who they are inside will never be the same. There’s an element of horror when you think about it that way. That you can look at an organism, while something completely “other” and alien exists beneath the surface. At the end of the day TOMBS LINES lyrics are “snapshots” of thoughts and feelings. Follow a thread of emotion and see where it goes. These tend to be the most insecure and pessimistic thoughts, but they’re often the most fun to push to extremes. There’s a real catharsis in pushing things to their most dramatic conclusion.
They may be snapshots in the human psyche, but there is something truly cathartic about experiencing the power and weight of TOMBS LINES‘ most recent effort. It pulls you and moves you in a multitude of directions, resulting in a myriad of emotions throughout its execution. And on the front of the stage, this feeling of catharsis will be even greater. “There’s an emotional purge to exploring these subjects and playing this kind of music live and I think there’s a release that can also be found by listening to it or watching it. It’s definitely something I feel listening to bands like NEUROSIS. It’s really nice to hear how someone connected to your music or what they took away from the lyrics or ideas of your songs. It is something significant for us. In the end, it’s just about getting something out of your system. It’s a great way to release some of the miserable asshole inside!”
Communion is available now through New Heavy Sounds.
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