How can something so ominously cavernous still sound fragile and on the point of collapse? That is the wonderful juxtaposition that runs through Tombstones in Their Eyes, a strange blend of muscle and delicacy, like marvelling at the awesome grandeur of a glacier and realising that it is only so much water.
Metallers take some comfort in their chosen genres being the loudest, hardest and heaviest environments, but they are more than missing the point. Strip away all the showboating and “more is more” approach, the posturing and the clutter, slow it right down almost to a dead stop and what is left is actually the primal spirit of the sound of heavy metal. What is left is Tombstones in Their Eyes! Ambient doom grunge? A proto sludge trudge? Bronze Age metal? Pick your own label, we are in new territory here, there is no wrong answer.
Separate provides the submerged rhythms that Handsel and Gretel would have made had they wandered the woods leaving a trail of cracked Ziljian cymbals and badly wired reverb pedals rather than breadcrumbs and Always There is the missing link between Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath.
The music is sweeping, terrible, claustrophobic, Shamanic and chilling, but it is also majestic, nightmarishly eloquent and beautifully Wagnerian. It is almost music as a dark religious rite, a primordial summoning but far from playing with all the shtick and cliché that most bands opt for, this seems all too real. That’s a bit of a worry to be honest.