We’ve been given hints that the members of T.O.M.E. are veterans of the Finnish metal underground, but apart from the drummer (whose identity can be discovered through Metal-Archives), they’ve hidden their names and pedigrees, preferring to let their music represent itself. And what it represents, through their debut album I-III, is a strange and formidably frightening experience, a form of black metal that reveals the members as sonic alchemists, capable of creating creepy spells that take us into some “otherworld” far away from the one we live in, while simultaneously seducing a listener’s reptile brain — the part that makes us move without thinking.
The album will be released by Spread Evil on June 4th, and what we have for you today is the second of its three long tracks, which are denominated only by Roman numerals. But we encourage you to set aside the 14 minutes required to listen to the previously released track “I” first, before moving into the second track that we’re premiering today, which will take 11 more minutes of your time. Trust us, it will all be time well-spent.
That first song will introduce you to the heavy, head-moving prowess of T.O.M.E.‘s stripped-down rhythms, and to the band’s ability to immerse you in skin-shivering, spine-tingling, hallucinatory sensations. It’s a deeply sinister experience from beginning to end, even when the momentum accelerates, the riffing slashes in a semblance of feral, murderous exultation, and you really get a chance to pump your head like a piston. You won’t hear a voice until about halfway through, and it makes the music even more unnerving — and so too does the moaning and mewling of the twisted guitar harmony which follows that screaming appearance, and which creates a blood-congealing kind of spell. Madness then mounts like a torrent through the surging riffage above rock-steady beats, and then briefly fades away, as a momentary break before track II begins.
When that second track launches, it’s with a heavy, plodding rhythmic movement accented by bursts of popping snare and rumbling bass, surrounded by a seething miasma of high-toned riffing that sweeps with queasy yet wondrous fieriness, once again pierced by wild, scalding shrieks that are even more unhinged than the blazing guitars. Those blazing yet demented sounds sweep across changing drum patterns, but also morph into dismal droning tones that drag the mood into pits of desolation and hopelessness. You can’t deny the head-moving impact of the rocking beats and pulsing bass tones, but there’s a feeling of incurable illness and encroaching dementia in the blaring and beleaguered chords, just as the vocals channel tortured wretchedness with the kind of intensity that scrapes the eardrums raw
Just past the halfway point, the song changes, replacing what has come before with ambient sounds that shimmer, chime, and wash like waves, accompanied by the sounds of distant thunder. That experience becomes even more frightening as strangled snarls, choking cries, chilling gasps, and ghostly hoots intrude, and ethereal ringing tones send discomfiting tingles down the spine. There’s a patter of percussion near the end, which leads into the third track — but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to discover what happens in that one.
We’re pleased to report that T.O.M.E. have made diabolical plans for a continuation of what they started here, with further albums each featuring three songs — IV-VI to follow, then VII-IX, etc.