(Andy Synn reviews the debut album by the Swedish band Tehom, released in April by Blood Harvest.)
Despite my best efforts I haven’t managed to write as much as I’d hoped to over the last few weeks. My job has been keeping me pretty busy during the day, and my evenings have largely been taken up by booking/prepping/practicing with Beyond Grace, and it’s likely that this state of affairs is only going to get worse over the next week or two, as we kick off the first leg of our album release tour this Thursday.
Thankfully I’ve already got a series of interviews lined up to cover my upcoming absence next week, and should have just enough time over the next couple of days to review a handful of albums which I feel have been woefully overlooked here at NCS.
So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the unbearable grimness of Tehom, and their debut album The Merciless Light.
Possessing a sound somewhere between the slime-ridden savagery of early Morbid Angel and the evangelic evil of latter-day Enthroned, a quick scour of the internet should tell you immediately that reactions to this album are divided into (roughly) two camps.
On the one side are those who find the duo’s blend of deathly dissonance and murky, blackened atmosphere to be too repetitive and dirge-like – monotonous, rather than monstrous – to be truly compelling.
On the other, however, you have those who find this very repetition, this gruesome, droning intensity, to be utterly hypnotic, with all the inescapable pull of a collapsing star.
On a personal level, I tend towards the latter interpretation of things – the inexorable draw of songs like “Faith From Water” and venomous closer “Voices from the Darkside” proving irresistible to my twisted sensibilities – although, from a more objective point of view, I can’t deny that those in the former camp have some legitimate grievances too.
When this album is firing on all cylinders – as it does on “The Smoldering Vessels” and the lunatic “Hearth of Perdition” – it’s an absolute maelstrom of grisly, churning riffs and brutish, heaving rhythms, coated in a thick, asphyxiating layer of murky atmosphere and possessing an aura of pure malice and dread.
The guitars grind and groan like the gates of some hellish asylum, while the vocals spew forth a volatile litany of vicious, infectious madness, and what little melody there is – often warped and mutated almost beyond recognition by the unholy forces at work here – is almost drowned beneath the chaotic barrage of blistering blastbeats and gut-wrenching percussive patterns which provide the violent impetus for (almost) each and every track.
Granted, not everything reaches the same colossal heights – opener “Absorbed Into the Will of the Great Destroyer” takes far longer than it should to get going (though when it does finally ignite it does so with gruesome gusto), while “With Patience and Faith” will certainly test your capacity for both… and perhaps the less said about “Tehom Invocation” the better – but even these weaker moments aren’t enough to fully derail the album’s ghastly momentum.
So if you’re looking for some truly grim and grisly delights, something that blurs the boundaries between Death and Black Metal a la artists like Angelcorpse, Death Fortress, and Necrophobic, then give The Merciless Light a shot… what’s the worst that could happen?