In the realm of death metal, fans may have droves of catchy modern melodeath bands to choose from, but those who want a sampling of dissonant but subtly technically-proficient old-school death metal have fewer groups to look up. Within this smaller pool is Canada’s Tomb Mold; their latest recording, Manor of Infinite Forms, may be one of very few albums released this year that comes remotely close to the caliber of their peers. Their prior full-length, Primordial Malignity, was an underrated release that also featured such an amalgam of styles, and Manor of Infinite Forms looks set to continue and improve on this healthy blend.

Tomb Mold may feature the frequent use of dissonant leads and shredded riffs as to be expected from this vein of death metal, but they are also accessible and easy to appreciate. Few bands really achieve a balance between dissonance, technical playing, and accessibility, but Tomb Mold have done a commendable job for the past two albums running. They’re suitably old-school, technically proficient at times, dissonant for the most part, and indelibly catchy and groovy throughout Manor of Infinite Forms. The palm-muted downpick-‘til-you-drop style the guys sometimes utilize leads to shredding transitions that sound original but accessible.

Get to know the album’s vibe via the single “Abysswalker”.

It won’t take fans very long to start bopping to the music before full headbanging starts taking over. On the title track, the band does away with the usual spoken word samples or incompetent ambient music that can come across as cheesy. The first few minutes of music will impress listeners jaded with the familiar blast-beat-meets-doom-transitions trap that many acts fall into. Instead, they seem to transition from one memorable-but-difficult riff to another, retaining the catchy groove that has become a hallmark of old-school death metal. In fact, Tomb Mold features crafty songwriting technique to sustain the listener’s interest during repeat listens. The band don’t utilize verse-chorus-verse structure, but neither do they go from one segment to another without revisiting the best riffs on each song. Album highlight is track six, “Chamber of Sacred Oothaca”, with its uptempo groove and superb transitions which retain said groove throughout the song. Meanwhile, the acoustic intro on track seven, “Two Worlds Become One”, lends a throwback quality to end the record.

The production also deserves recognition for not burying the drums in the mix. In particular, double bass pedal abuse can be majestically enjoyed by fans who appreciate this element of extreme metal drumming. Keeping the pace for such oddly-timed riffs and transitions at times can be a challenge, and it is a challenge that Tomb Mold meets with flying colors. As icing on the cake, the cover artwork appeals to fans of eighties death metal and only adds to the record’s charm.

Here’s your chance to listen to all of Manor of Infinite Forms, starting with the title track.

Overall, there’s not a bad track on Manor of Infinite Forms, and while the vocals are reduced to occasional non-descript guttural grunt, the record will please fans of this rare crossover mix of styles. To call the record ‘perfect’ is a stretch – many listeners may contradict this by pointing out that the chopping downpicks could have been utilized less throughout the record. This may be the case, but such is a minor observation that deserves quite well to be put aside. The record will draw few complaints from fans, and may even make strides in bringing this more underground amalgam of styles closer to the mainstream in the future.

Perhaps, the best thing fans might take note from such a quality release is how it works as a whole package, one that does not outstay its welcome. The band saw fit to record only seven tracks that properly exemplify their music at its creative apex. No fillers. No hit numbers. Manor of Infinite Forms is just essential extreme metal.

Manor of Infinite Forms Track Listing:

01. Manor Of Infinite Forms
02. Blood Mirror
03. Abysswalker
04. Final Struggle of Selves
05. Gored Embrace (Confronting Biodegradation)
06. Chamber Of Sacred Ootheca
07. Two Worlds Become One

Run Time: 40:59
Release Date: June 8, 2018
Record Label: 20 Buck Spin