It’s winter where I live. I love winter, I really do; if it weren’t for the fact that my house is damp as fuck, I’d be happy as anything with frost on the lawn every morning and my breath in clouds every day. Every morning, I get up, walk to work, work, and then walk home, usually seeing minimal daylight in between. For the last few days, my town has been covered in permanent fog, so thick the sun never penetrates it, choking out any light that might have been. God, it’s gloomy; but it’s the perfect setting for Resin Tomb’s self-titled debut album.
Resin Tomb is the perfect length for me: I can listen to it once through on my way to work, and again on the way back. So what exactly does the album consist of? I’ll tell you: 16 minutes of absolute, sheer brutality. It’s a forceful exploration of dissonance, humanity, and death. All five songs are crushing: the gloomy “Abrogate”, with its jerky riffs, the vocals spanning the screamed, the guttural, and everything in between; the aptly named “Penance”, a dark, twisted blackened-death-grindy creature, thrashing, writhing, trying desperately to shed its own skin; the chilling “Surfacing”, its machinic drums juxtaposed with the delightfully human guitar playing, pummelling away until all that remains is one thought – ‘death is universal’; “Prostrated”, the hefty song of which I could only think one thing when I first heard it, and that was ‘fuck me’; and finally, the immense “Bestial”.
I absolutely adore “Bestial”. There’s something so visceral about this track in particular, something somehow so abhorrent and yet so startlingly beautiful, not in the conventional sense of beauty. It’s beautiful in the way a dead bird is beautiful – a still sense of finality, inevitability, and loss, wrapped in a cocoon of heartbreaking tragedy, a life destroyed, a soul abandoned, a stark reminder of all things fragile. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing ‘fragile’ about this song. The whole thing screams in anguish, destroying itself, tearing apart from the inside out. The fog of black metal that surrounds its riffs is broken occasionally by stabbing guitar harmonics, sliced to shreds by the tortured death metal vocals, the gritty bass tone, the tight, forceful drums. There is a harmony I particularly like on the chorus riff, like a swarm of wasps, or maniacal laughter. The attention to detail on this track is astounding, the facets of brutality it explores both terrifying and so very much what I needed.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel so strongly about any of the other tracks on this album. None of them resonate with me the way “Bestial” does, none of them grip me so much. I couldn’t tell you why; there are no flaws in the composition of the songs, and the album as a whole is extremely cohesive and well thought out. It took me quite a while to come to grips with Resin Tomb – beyond “Bestial”, I just didn’t connect with it for a long time. It wasn’t until I was listening to it and writing a paragraph about how the album didn’t make me feel anything that, ironically, I started feeling something in it: pain. And then I understood. The nonchalance I felt in regard to Resin Tomb was its precise point.
Resin Tomb inspires indifference, and that’s not a bad thing – it seems very intentional. Its confrontational, festering energy is harnessed by an icy sense of resolve and complacency; a strange combination. Resin Tomb is numbing in the most abrasive way, bleak, barren, and yet so full of attitude and a strange sense of wanting – whether it’s a desire to live or die is open to interpretation. The only thing that’s clear is that this is an honest, painstakingly curated expression of misery and pain.
I feel the band’s agony with every jarring chord, every violent hit of the snare, every grinding bass note. I can’t understand the lyrics, save a few phrases, but it doesn’t matter – the delivery says it all. “Surfacing” is my favourite in this regard, the vocals both husky and deep, nails across skin, flesh, and bone. The songs bleed into each other, become one tormented heap. Today, writing this, I have listened to the album top to bottom four times since I undertook my foggy walk to work this morning. I am starting to feel vividly empty, my thoughts massaged into meaninglessness by Resin Tomb’s constant, screaming riffs, pummelling drums, fucked up harmony, its gorgeously tortured vocals. I come to accept this feeling more and more with each listen. This album is a bitter pill best taken at least once a day and swallowed whole to unleash its full effect, but be warned: once you’re hooked, it’s a hard habit to break.