After 2007’s ‘Dead Again’, Type O Negative were supposed to be set to follow up their first SPV release when the tragic passing of Pete Steele occurred. It was during the time between the end of the Dead Again touring cycle and the passing of Steele that Kenny Hickey, guitarist and additional vocalist of Type O Negative branched out with drummer Johnny Kelly to create Seventh Void, a band who followed a similar blueprint to Type O Negative with that colossal low end prominent sound and slow, lumbering pace. They only got to release one album, “Heaven Is Gone”, but when I heard it, I was in love with the sound and couldn’t wait to hear more of it! Naturally, things happen, momentum is lost or people get different ideas and Seventh Void ceased to be. A Pale Horse Named Death rose up and gained prominence, again, another Brooklyn based band with former Type O Negative members in (along with a former member of Seventh Void who wasn’t associated with Type O) and now we have Silvertomb surfacing, the combination of Type O Negative, Seventh Void, Agnostic Front, A Pale Horse Named Death and Emperyon… Basically, Silvertomb is a band loaded with a rich musical history, some serious pedigree and a ton of potential. Let’s get on with this!
“Insomnia – Sunrise” opens the album and it instantly begins to set the tone for the album atmospherically. A haunting drone which is delivered at a very controlled pacing, backed up by disorientating samples and effects starts things off and as the hypnotic net is cast, the band comes in with a huge amount of distortion and force, stamping its foot down with some authority! Lumbering pace, heavy sounds and plenty of down-tuned groove, this colossal doom beast has a commanding presence, one which will refuse to be ignored for the entire duration of the album. Hickey’s vocals are solid, his higher range often worked to great effect complementing and contrasting Steele’s baritone bellows in Type O Negative and his vocal edge hasn’t dulled in the years which we haven’t heard from him. Able to go from a lazy drawl to a dramatic yell or scream and hold it with power and sustain, his voice is only matched by the fierceness of his guitar tone – that uncompromising sustain and wah fuelled scream he is known for. Loaded full of dramatic lead fills and subtle keyboard based augmentation, this steady paced number gets the ball rolling before a crisp overdriven refrain ends the track and we move on to the next one.
“Love You Without No Lies” is definitely a Type O Negative inspired track. It has that dark and dreary atmosphere about it – a tolling bell and sorrowful and haunting piano gives way to thick and slightly sludgy riffs which slowly creep towards you like the oncoming darkness of night. A slight bluesy air can be detected in the simplistic composition – turnarounds and 12-bar styled structuring in the guitar lines mean it can use the ‘less is more’ approach, allowing the stripped back scale of composition to allow for bigger atmospheric impacts which are found in the chorus and the subsequent lead section later in the track – layered arpeggios with thick distortion go into a screaming 1-2 solo trade-off loaded with slick runs, wailing sustained notes and some screaming wah-pedal accenting. “So True” keeps up with the oppressive atmosphere, bringing string instrument samples in, adding a slightly orchestral/symphonic element to the track but this is soon shattered by piercing guitar stabs which shift to a faster paced series of chugging riffs. Scathing and venomous lyrics are delivered with plenty of sneer and it gives the track a real nasty vibe. It’s pretty blunt and doesn’t hold back much, only in the brief clean sections where the haunting orchestral feel returns but that is quickly subdued once again when the dirt kicks in once more, especially where the final run of the track is concerned – a distorted variant of this clean chorus section with added lead guitar theatrics to round it off.
“Not Your Saviour” is the first of the tracks to feature a massive clean to distortion switch dynamic which surfaces a few times throughout the track. Highly atmospheric, it is like the silver lining on the dark musical cloud of sound so far on this album. Rich and melodic in the clean sections, hard hitting in the distorted verses and the way the piano slips in and turns into a full blown Hammond Organ accompaniment for the final chorus which is a fully distorted rendition of it really rounds the track off nicely. This sets us up for “One Of You”, a more sinister and darker track which is harder hitting and one of the heaviest tracks on the release. Initially it is a steadily pounding track which is quite normal for this style of doom, but round the 2:35 mark, it gives you a rude awakening; a colossal sized boogie-riff kicks in and the track sparks to life. Hard hitting, infectiously groovy and intense, it brings in screaming vocals, sinister dark sections and a phenomenal solo which all comes to a dead stop at the end of the track. This is all leads up to the final four tracks of the release, arguably the best musical moments on this album.
“Right Of Passage- Crossing Over” has that lazy, exotic droning melody to start before it goes into the usual lumbering heavy progressions. Steady chugs, pseudo-hypnotic drones and a huge vocal and drum performance really stand out, especially as the track progresses and Hickey’s vocal screams bring a real display of raw emotion and vulnerability to them. It’s a massive moment in the track when this all kicks in and when the soloing starts around the 5 minute mark, it is some of the most impressive lead work I have heard out of all the releases Hickey has contributed his lead guitar skills to. Again, it has a powerful and haunting edge to it and as it suddenly stops, trailing off into ambient noise, “Eulogy – Requiem” kicks in. Once more, the massive assault of heavy and bone shaking chords stabs away in the verses whilst the chorus eases off slightly, making things feel a little brighter. There are some sweet sounding spots where the Hammond Organ augments things perfectly and overall, this track is rather haunting in its presence and atmosphere. “Sleeping On Nails And Wine” is a short interlude track, just over a minute and a half in length and personally, it feels more like an extended refrain than a track in its own right. It’s a clean/acoustic number with Kenny singing, just a stripped back musical moment and even this isn’t spared from the darkness which permeates this release; it sounds like a rather sinister lullaby! “Waiting” is the closing track on the release and it’s a total switch up – more stripped back, raw and rock-minded than doomy, the clean start is delivered with some real energy and the distortion comes in and sharpens it up. Killer shred soloing and energy oozes throughout the track and it’s almost as if this track is what is at the edge of existence and the rest of the release leading up to it was the journey there.
Overall, this is a fantastic album. It’s not too long with the run time, it has enough familiarity to be recognisable but not grow stale quickly after repeated listens and there is enough variety on it to showcase just how versatile the musicians who make up Silvertomb are. Whilst it isn’t as imposing as the likes of A Pale Horse Named Death or Type O Negative in terms of nihilism and misanthropy, it’s still dark and heavy and can easily stand tall as another fine entry into the rich legacy of the Brooklyn based metal scene.