TOMBHAMMER  Sprecher des Omnibus der Ewigkeit  CASSETTE   (Crucial Blast)   9.00

For nearly a decade, Gregorio Franco has been a steadily rising force in the field of dark, aggressive synthesizer music, producing some of the most innovative and full-on heavy "synth metal" you're gonna find in the underground music scene. One of the most prominent faces in the field of what is generally referred to as darksynth, Franco has traversed similar dystopian badlands as Carpenter Brut and Perturbator. But where he deviates is the unique addition of an impenitent death metal influence; where other contemporary synth artists are often content to peddle the same 'ol pastel-hued VHS-era aesthetics and "outrun" sounds, Franco injects bulldozing guitar tones reminiscent of Bolt Thrower and the Swedish death metal underground, alongside an ultra heavy electro-bass attack and brutalizing rhythmic power that's directly descended from industrial metal's most violent drum programming. Franco's music feels more suited to a war zone than a dance floor, and in fact has the ability to turn one into the other. And his creative flow is endless; along with a multitude of albums and EPs that stretch back to 2013, his Bandcamp account is constantly updated with unique covers of synth-pop classics and video game soundtracks alike.

Under the Tombhammer banner, Franco now expands his sound into even deeper, heavier territory. His electronic influences are obvious, at their core consistently paying homage to the classic sounds of early John Carpenter, vintage Tangerine Dream / Klaus Schulze, and the darkest of neon-drenched 80s-era film soundtracks. But with Tombhammer, Franco further incorporates a specific side of his metal background for the project. Heavily informed by the tone and feel of Nightfall-era Candlemass, the lugubrious funeral doom of Australia's Mournful Congregation, and the peculiar blackened orchestrations and apocalyptic resonance of Urfaust circa-Verr√§terischer, Nichtsw√ľrdiger Geist and Geist ist Teufel, Franco's guitar work and songcraft evokes the tangled black roots of graveyard trees, the blinding glare of a nuclear-red sun at twilight, the oceanic emptiness of an uncaring omniverse, and the deepest abysses of human grief. This stuff is genuinely heart-wrenching with its cold, dark beauty and oppressive emotional depth. Somber. Sonorous. Man, these songs moved me.

Pairing the song "Sprecher des Omnibus der Ewigkeit" from the online digital demo MMXXIII with a brand-new exclusive B-side track "Bereiche Magischen Leids", this EP is the official debut release from the mighty Tombhammer. Together, it almost feels like part of a score to a previously unknown Panos Cosmatos film. The first, ""Sprecher" (roughly translated from the German to "Speaker of the Omnibus of Eternity"), stretches out to the razor-thin light dying on the horizon line, immediately casting you into a sumptuous and billowing cloud of black- fluorescent synthesizer. When that riff comes in, the complimentary effect is crushing. I was in love with this as soon as it kicked in. Cinematic synth-doom? Soaring, darkly romantic doomwave? Forget all that, "Sprecher" simply pulverizes with a perfect blending of electronic texture and bone-smashing doom. Somewhere, some film director should be scrambling to find Franco's contact info because this is one of the best unmade film scores I've ever heard. The middle section where the cinderblock guitars die away and we are adrift in clouds of swirling ashen particulate? Gorgeous. The moment when that devastator of a riff comes flowing back in like a river of black magma? Punishing. This instrumental crush is as emotionally weighted and mournfully ethereal as the best late 80s / early 90s UK / European doom metal, and just as memorable. The B-side "Bereiche Magischen Leids" was recorded exclusively for this EP release, and shifts the experience more towards the electronic side of the spectrum. It is just as cyclopean in scope. Again, a curtain is dropped on an immense black void, luminous drones driving into the infinite, a menacing guitar melody uncoiling in the depths. A synth-drenched hint of Peaceville-style slow-motion dread sprawling outward, everywhere. And it builds. And builds. Attracting molten matter to the slow spinning iron core and amassing itself into a kind of ambient metal spheroid, swirling black guitar drone and eerie doom-laden melody and grinding synth all bearing down on you like the shadow of a newly birthed black sun. An amorphous elegy as counterpart to the previous trudge through majestic misery.

It rolls over you, somewhat like the darker work of Jóhann Jóhannsson, seeded with the glacial melodic style of guitarist Andrew Craighan. One hell of a debut.

Track Samples:
Sample : Sprecher des Omnibus der Ewigkeit
Sample : Bereiche Magischen Leids