Wednesday 1 January 2014

Tomhet - Caliginous

Isn't it amazing how quickly that festive feeling departs, sending us spiralling back into banality, longing for escapism. This is the point where we all clutch onto what we hold dear, in the hope that we might lose ourselves once again. Music is the most powerful tool when it comes to escapism and no sooner has the new year started, but I'm already slinging myself back into it's warm arms.

Canadian black metal entity Tomhet appeared on these pages back in 2012 with the Wanderland EP. Since then there has been two EP's and a full-length released. Caliginous is the band's fourth full-length and as originally released on LP in November 2012 by Prison Tatt Records. It was very limited then, so in July 2013 Glorious North Productions released a run of tape versions.


1. Contrachristian
2. Breathing Self Destruction
3. Whispering Leaves
4. Once Upon A Forest
5. ...Sounds Like Memories
6. Anchored

For those familiar with Tomhet’s musical output, you’ll know that it’s made up of swirling black metal with haunting ambience. The fact that on record at least, it’s a one-man project, further increases the anticipation when pressing play on Caliginous.

Opener Contrachristian is probably the strongest example of Tomhet’s sour, featuring ambient noise, loud guitar and really confrontational high-pitched squealing before being replaced by blackness. The vocals are in the middle of the mix and the song features symphonic instrumentation, which battles for prominence with the percussion. There’s no such prolonged noise intro on Breathing Self Destruction. It’s just straight up black metal, with affectionate melody that stays sensitive to the music. The chanting singing mixed with the volume present in the song, adds further textures, as does the sound of brass (although I’m not sure whether it is brass, it might just be the tone of the guitar!). Either way, it’s very listenable.

The use of electronics during Caliginous is cool as well. Often I find that electronics are used if the wrong way and they can get annoying, but more and more bands are using them to add to their music, instead of to overpower it. Tomhet uses these effects sparingly and sensitively during Whispering Leaves, which is an instrumental piece. Once Upon A Forest shows off Tomhet’s expansive writing skills further, with some brilliant musicianship. It’s suitably dramatic, especially the melodies played by the guitar. This is only the intro too, but it sucks you into the atmosphere and keeps you gripped as it gives way to raging instrumental black metal that ends with a melody played by what sounded like a whistle (again, I could be wrong).

The underlying noise on …Sounds Like Memories makes you think of old chamber music, prior the electronic beat kicking in. At risk of being shouted down, it reminds me of slowed-down techno or debased, especially with the music over the top. Caliginous ends in a more traditional way, with a grand hymn by the name of Anchored. The rasping screams in the song really bring home the variation that Xaphan has injected into the album. You wouldn’t usually expected to hear black metal alongside electronics akin to dubstep, but somehow it works really well. It’s one of the most original releases I’ve heard for quite some time and is well worth investing your time in. 

Listen to Caliginous here:-

You can purchase the album digitally, LP or tape directly from Tomhet's bandcamp page.

You can purchase the tape version directly from Glorious North Productions here -

You can also buy the LP version directly from Prison Tatt Records here -

Tomhet Facebook -
Glorious North Productions Facebook -
Prison Tatt Records Facebook -

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