Australia is absolutely killing it right now. The past few years, I have lost count of how many times I’ve asked myself, “Huh, I wonder where they’re from?” about an amazing new band I’ve discovered just to see Australia and go, “Oh, yeah, okay that makes sense.” From now defunct acts like VALJEAN and Cursed Earth to my 2019 obsession with post-metalcore darlings Thornhill (please do yourself a favor here) and 2020 blackened death-doom dark horses Earth Rot and Snorlax, the land down under is churning out some of the best of the best in heavy music.
It should come as no surprise then that common threads exist among many of the extreme metal acts with insular communities. One such thread is Brendan Auld, prolific riffer and proprietor of Brisbane studio Black Blood Audio. Brendan is the sole member of the aforementioned Snorlax, and has had a hand in countless other death metal acts like Dire Wolf, Consumed, Phagocyde, Siberian Hell Sounds, and Descent. Brendan is also the driving force behind brand new outfit Resin Tomb, which takes its moniker from the Snorlax song of the same name.
With a seasoned veteran like Auld at the helm, Resin Tomb’s eponymous debut EP is a masterstroke in rich death-grind majesty. Clocking in at a modest quarter of an hour, Resin Tomb offers its listener a rare trip to the aural House of Leaves; the exploratory density of its contents make the 16 total minutes of runtime feel much longer than they actually are. In a way, this is both ultimately rewarding and strangely unsettling. Much like Danielewski’s mysterious rooms, yawning halls, and staircases stretching into oblivion, Resin Tomb have crafted tunes much bigger and scarier on the inside than they appear to be on the outside. Only by forging a path through the darkness will we come to understand, so let’s get on with it.
I could go on about its dissonant, panicked, blackened riffs. I could tell you about the endless grind of blast beats and melancholy, anguished vocals. I could give praise for some of the best bass tone I’ve heard all year. I could do all that, and you’d misunderstand that this is just another entry among the countless other death and grind bands that have released albums this year. On paper, its components and the DNA it is derived from are all very much the same as these other projects. However, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill OSDM bandwagon festoonery with recycled riffs played lazily in a cave on Play-Skool instruments. Resin Tomb is meat on the bone of a fresh kill, still twitching with dreams not yet dead.
Tracks like “Penance” and the EP’s big finale “Bestial” are, for lack of a better term, transcendental – a word I have never used in conjunction with music such as this. Indeed, the compositions and meditative relentlessness feel more spiritually attuned to blackgaze acts like Deafheaven than any of the contemporaries in their field. “Surfacing” in particular drips with existential sorrow, imbuing the listener with the trademark thousand-yard-stare of silently wrestling with one’s own being. It’s powerful stuff.
Most bands in this genre are preoccupied with the trivialities of being angry or sounding brutal, or what is more commonly becoming the case, being in love with their own aesthetic at the expense of actually writing anything good or memorable. Resin Tomb have decidedly sidestepped the bullshit with their debut and written some of the best music I’ve heard all year. It is complex in its simplicity, sonically unforgiving, and grounded in an astonishing amount of emotional depth. This is a can’t-miss release you’ll find yourself revisiting again and again. Dig into it.
Resin Tomb releases July 31 via Brilliant Emperor Records.