Reviewed By Justin Donnelly
My introduction to Tombe comes via Black Trillium – a Sydney (N.S.W., Australia) based doom band whose two members (namely guitarist/percussionist/keyboardist Zach J. Carlsson and guitarist/autoharp player Simon Skipper) make up half of this newly formed outfit. Unlike the decidedly doom-like direction of Black Trillium, Tombe (who also comprise of ex-Ministerium drummer/keyboardist/principal songwriter Thomas Lockwood and Hucker & Bird/The Campervan Dancers violinist Elise Carpio) is probably best described as heavy post-southern/experimental rock. It’s a genre tag that doesn’t really do the band much justice after listening to their debut effort Longbarn from start to finish, but it is a description that gives you some idea of where the band are at in the musical sense.
The album begins with “Chapel of the Earth”, which gives you some idea of what the band are capable of producing sonically. There’s a touch of southern rock, a touch of country (courtesy of the twang on the guitars and the flourishes of violin in places) and heavy rock (the guitar riffs are upfront and guide the track throughout). The instrumental track isn’t overly complex in its structure, but nonetheless captivating in its delivery with the track continuously ebbing and flowing in quieter moments and louder passages – all the while maintaining its gentle riff structures and spirit of jammed experimentation.
The follow-up track, “Dawn Over the Meadows”, which also happens to be the first single lifted from the album, is one of only two tracks on the album with vocals, with indie/pop artist Caity Dee contributing this time around. Although the song itself is a good one, it isn’t one of my favourites on the album as I can’t help but feel that the music and vocals tend to clash a little in places.
Tombe get things back on track with the rather lengthy instrumental title track “Longbarn”, which goes to extremes with its gentle violin passages and heavy guitar/bass/psychedelic keyboard riffed passages, while the slow paced and haunting “Portrait Under the Sun” is more akin to the doom like sounds of Black Trillium, albeit without the heavy handed guitar work.
The acoustic based “Adrift the Waters” provides a short and welcome breather moment for the listener, before Julian Cartwright (who is a member of rock outfit Red Gazelle with Skipper) injects a bit of heavy rock into personal favourite “The Forgotten Traveller”.
“Wild Horses Across the Plain” is an interesting foray into something a little more challenging structure wise on the song writing front, with the song featuring some angular riffing on the guitar front alongside some lengthier solo work, while the closer “The Outrider” is another truly standout track with the added harmonica (courtesy of Kelvin Carlsson) and the heavier end of the guitars adding a whole new fold to the band’s wide reaching sound spectrum.
Tombe are a hard band to pin down in the genre sense, but if post-rock mixed with a touch of heavy southern rock, country and the slightest hint of doom sounds appealing, then Longbarn is an album you should definitely check out.