Frequent lineup changes can spell doom for some bands, but Tombs ain’t one of them. In the time since 2014’s outstanding Savage Gold, half the band’s roster has turned over, bringing drummer Charlie Schmid (Vaura), guitarist Evan Void (Sadgiqacea), and synth man Fade Kainer (Batillus) into the fold for the upcoming All Empires Fall EP. This is the fifth or sixth substantial lineup change that Tombs have endured, but frontman Mike Hill’s stern, austere creative voice still rings out as clearly here as it did on the band’s earliest recordings. Kainer’s keys — a new feature for Tombs — and occasional backing vocals constitute the most noticeable change to the band’s sound, but even they neatly fill an extant role in Tombs’s well-established approach. “Deceiver” offers a good example of this dynamic. Kainer opens the song with an eerie two-note synth pattern that likely would’ve been played on an effects-laden guitar on earlier Tombs records, but by the time the tune locks into the murderous mid-paced stomp that carries it to its conclusion, the keys recede to the background and Kainer switches to vocal duty for the shout-along chorus. It’s a classic Tombs setpiece on an EP that’s full of them — sometimes blasting and brutal, sometimes gothic and looming, but always the unmistakeable sound of one of contemporary metal’s most distinctive bands. Listen.
All Empires Fall will be out 4/1 via Relapse Records.