Down tempo. Sludge. Doom. Big muff, huge fuzz. All words equally valid to describe Tombstones' Year of the Burial. This three piece outfit from Norway appear to have discovered the brown note, as demonstrated by the opening riff of the opening track Unveiling. It's thick as mud with more fuzz than a room full of police. The vocals are muted. The bass is not (which is a big tick in my book; Albert's Bumper Book of Fun and Games). There are some strange time changes and it really is down tempo all the way. Bjorn-Viggo Godtland is apparently 'on a mountain, looking' down and howls and wails like a cold, norse wind. Tombstone's sound is nothing new but as I'm very fond of doom, sludge, mud and fudge (and there's plenty of fudge-based goodness here) I'm quite into it.
The outro drone of Unveiling leads into Silent Voice but if you weren't paying attention you might not know the song had changed because there's so much fuzz on every track. Jorn Inge Woldmo bashes the drums in a most delightful way and the track is like Kyuss on valium. It's swooningly dischordant in places and never picks up the pace beyond the initial chugging speed. Next song Quintessential is droning, hypnotic, and weighty. It crushes you beneath a sonic slab that's quite insane. At times the track sounds like it's trying to speed up and not quite managing it. The suitably anguished vocals fit well and there are no complaints so far. LIke any decent music, this album gets better as you turn it up and Egypt is testament to this; the ringing chords and twangy bass that fade into distortion and feedback really stand out when it's cranked up. And it's all woven around some slinky cymbal work courtesy of Jorn. Vocalist Godtland also does double duty on guitar but it's Ole Chritian Helstad's bass that does it for me. It's like being squashed between the plates of the earth. Ole also pitches in with the vocals so it's obvious these boys like to share.
My only concern is that because every song is drenched in fuzz, it sometimes gets a bit 'samey'- tracks began to merge into each other and if I wasn't paying full attention I wouldn't realise the track has changed due to the monotone nature of said songs. But that's often what your common or garden doom fan wants; the heavier, the slower, the better. And Tombstone deliver on this. Title track Year of the Burial is like getting run over by steam-roller; it just keeps coming at you like a limping wolf. I say 'limping' not in a disparaging way but because that's how it appears in my (possibly slightly disturbed?) mind. It certainly doesn't charge at you like an elephant on speed; it's more an elephant on heroin; lumbering over to roll on you with its big fat belly. What the hell am I on about? But I'm loving the vocals on here and I'm not even sure why - they just fit exceedingly well.
Final track Sabbathian is an epic in the art of slowing down the tempo till it almost stops. Then it claws it's way back. Can it get any heavier? Can it get any slower? Possibly not. There are only six songs on here but with the majority of them clocking in at over six or seven minutes each, it doesn't really seem an issue. If you love a bit of doom or even just own a wizard-shaped bong, then you'll quite possibly get into this.