This piece was originally featured in our fourth issue, available here
Whilst ‘hype’ may be a rather grandiose term when discussing the rise of a bludgeoning filthy death metal band, the emergence of Canadian four-piece Tomb Mold has certainly got ears perked and tongues wagging in the extreme metal underground. Indeed, whilst an unrelenting stream of stellar albums has kept the current scene as vibrant and creatively fertile as it has ever been, there remains something unerringly unique about what Tomb Mold do – standing apart with their labyrinthine, Finnish-flavoured vision, underpinned by the sort of bloody-knuckled thud that would make Bolt Thrower green with riff-envy.
Forming in 2016, the band (Derrick Vela and Max Klebanoff, then a duo) exploded out of the traps, with two demo tapes landing in the same year, before the release of their debut full-length Primordial Malignity in 2017. Following this, another demo (Cryptic Transmissions) and the addition of Payson Power and Steve Musgrave on guitars and bass respectively saw them continue to move with rather incredible speed, this merciless momentum seeing an ever-expanding audience begin to fall for Tomb Mold’s dank and deadly charms.
Releasing their sophomore LP Manor of Infinite Forms last year via 20 Buck Spin, the band have turned in what is arguably the death metal record of the year. Their top-of-the-range brutality harnessing the ancient, subterranean horror of extreme metal’s grisly spirit and only attracting new legions of denim-clad devotees. Here, we chat to band about their writing process, the plaudits they are receiving, and if you can expect to see them on our fair shores any time soon.
You guys have been so prolific since your first demo. How does your writing process tend to work and how are you able to turn out such stellar material so quickly?
It comes in bursts, if that makes sense. The initial outline of a song is done on my own. Usually by the time we’re ready to start writing them as a band, the foundations of the songs are already established and from there we work out what everyone is going to play. I try not to think too hard about what to write, instead I just play and let things happen naturally. If I sit down with the mindset of “I want to write something that sounds like X,Y, and Z” I will fail miserably!
Although Canada has a rich metallic heritage, there seems to have been an explosion of great Canadian death metal of late. Do you think there is a particular reason for this, or is it just a continuation of the country’s extreme metal pedigree?
I think there has been just a pretty big boom across the board in the last 5-7 years, not just Canada. Toronto and the surrounding area serves as a great hub for creativity in general. I think it’s just a natural continuation. Some of my favourite metal albums have come from Canada, but maybe just being in Canada it doesn’t feel like a huge thing. Call it distance, haha.
Manor Of Infinite Forms seems to strike a terrific balance between the more American style groove and plenty of Finnish weirdness. Was it a conscious decision to meld these different strains or it is simply a reflection of your influences?
I’ve gotten asked this a couple times, or “what were you listening to while writing?” – The three records I always go back to are Slumber Of Sullen Eyes, Nespithe, and Dreams Of The Carrion Kind. I think it’s a combo of melding and reflection. Early on, there was a conscious decision to boast more of a Finnish DM sound, but the more simplistic pummelling side. Now, we just write. It’s much nicer!
The artwork for Manor Of Infinite Forms captures the essence of the music so effectively. How much input did you have for this?
Some but not much – by choice. Brad and I exchanged maybe one or two emails about the concept. I gave him the low-down on what the record deals with in regards to concept, lyrics, themes and whatnot. Beyond that I didn’t want to guide him too much, I wanted to see what he would come up with. Needless to say, what he came up with blew us all away. Even the initial sketch got us all giddy. His artwork elevated the record to a place we didn’t imagine. Not just him though – we were fortunate to have our friend Lucas aka Shoggoth Kinetics contribute a piece for the insert of the record. Different style but both do so much to help bring the music to life.
The band have only recently begun touring. How have you found your first string of live shows? Is touring overseas in the pipeline for Tomb Mold?
This recent tour with Of Feather and Bone (OFAB) was actually our second time touring some of the USA! Both tours were excellent but this run with OFAB was something special. Beyond just the mutual love for each other’s music, each of us felt so connected to each other. It’s rare to find a band that you click with so easily. This tour was a bit of a wake up call for us. We knew people were paying attention but not to the degree that we saw on the road. It was definitely an uplifting experience. We will for sure continue to tour and play overseas next year .
How did you find the transition from being a duo to a four piece? Did this have any impact in your writing style at all?
No real change at all, except now I make videos to teach my bandmates how the songs go. Also now we have Payson and myself to both rip leads, and that is alright by me!
With the name Tomb Mold being a direct reference to Bloodborne, it is clear that video-games do influence the band somewhat. What else does the band look to for inspiration? Are there any particular authors or movie-makers that you turn to?
Video games definitely influence the direction of the band. Bloodborne, Super Metroid, Binding of Isaac are a few for sure. I think the band collectively worships the Alien movies and things of that nature. We’re all drawn to horror, whether it’s more cosmic or reality-based. For Max and I both, Laird Barron and HP Lovecraft are the heavy hitters that we always turn to for inspiration.
The band have garnered some rave reviews thus far in your career and you are often hailed as one of the most exciting death metal acts to emerge from the underground in some time. How does acclaim like this feel? Is it something you ever think about?
It’s something we never anticipated. We’ve said this a few times but the initial plan was to make a couple demo tapes, sell them online and then that would be that. Clearly, that isn’t how this has panned out! We’re truly grateful for anyone that has taken a minute to listen, or has paid to see us play, or bought a shirt or a tape or anything like that. We always try to make ourselves available at shows in case anyone wants to talk to us. We’re pretty open so long as you don’t come at us with any bullshit. The new record has been really well received, but we try not to get bogged down in keeping track of reviews and whatnot. You can become easily addicted to reading all of them, especially the bad ones. I won’t lie, we hear more from people outside of Toronto than those in our backyard. Maybe that’s just a shared experience for any band regarding their hometown.
Given the current crop of incredible death metal bands worldwide, are there any bands in particular that you feel you would make ideal touring partners with, or any whose music you feel a kinship with?
I mean, we’ll definitely tour with OFAB again. Full Of Hell get along with us nicely, that would be fun. We all love Phrenelith and wouldn’t be bummed watching them every night for a stretch of time. Their LP Desolate Endscape was definitely a record we all heard and took a step back. I still listen to it nearly every day. Superstition are great people and I can’t wait to hear more from them. We’re pretty chill people and don’t really party so touring with us could be ultra pleasant or a total bore! *laughs*.
What can we expect from you guys for the remainder of 2018?
We’ll record before the end of the year, play a few key shows out of town, play Quebec Deathfest and then get ready for lots of stuff in 2019.
This piece was originally featured in our fourth issue, available here.
Words: Tony Bliss
Photos: Credit Lucas Anderson (lucasphoto.com)