About Me

Interview with T.O.M.B.

Musicians No-One, B. Zimimay, Tyler B and Samantha Viola formed T.O.M.B in 1998 and since then have released several LPs, EPs, compilations and splits. The sounds imbued with T.O.M.B's trademark sound are both horrible and hypnotically binding on magic. The new album "Thin The Veil" features the collaboration of legendary drummer Hellhammer, Norwegian musician Andy Winter (Winds), Craig Smilowski (ex-Immolation), Duncan McLaren of Venom Wolf and Maurice De Jong ( "Mories" by Gnaw Their Tongues). "Thin The Veil" will be released on January 24th and the mentor had a long and interesting conversation with Metal Imperium where they talked about the project, the album and the tour with Mortiis ...

M.I. - Dark Essence describes you as Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemers… is this description adequate?

When I read the Dark Essence promotion for our album the first, I thought it was a typo. As I continued to read on, I realized their intentions. It is a direct description of myself and the other core members in the project. So, from a promotional stand point of T.O.M.B., it is quite adequate! 

M.I. - The band’s sound is characterized by an eclectic mix of Ambient, Doom, Industrial, Noise and traditional Black Metal. Is this the result of all the influences of each member or do you believe beauty lies in the mix of all these styles?

Myself, along with the core members are interested and influenced by many styles of music other than Black Metal. Having this wide range between us has had an impact on our collective contributions within the writing process. As Black Metal artists, it is important to have an open mind and be subjected to different musical experiences. The musical spectrum I personally have, is quite vast.  There are certain artists I really enjoy that I feel people would be quite shocked I would listen to. These artists would never be considered to have anything to do with Black Metal, but I find the feel and execution of their work, in certain respects, is way darker and disturbing, than listening to any of today's modern Black Metal.

M.I. - The band was formed 21 years ago… now that you are about to release your 6th full-length, has the band matched your expectations? Did you expect more or less out of it?

Over the 21 years now, we have created several EP's, LP's, splits, compilations. Accomplishing that, has definitely exceeded all personal expectations from the time I began this project.  There was never really a set goal in that regard. I wanted to create something different, extremely dark, something taboo that had never been done before at that time of Black Metal and music in general.  I wanted to go against the grain of what I had experienced individuals create in Black Metal and had no reservations of how the music would be received. The project has always progressed from the first demo I released called “Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy”. This new album marks yet another progression of the project. 

M.I. - The new album is titled “Thin The Veil” and includes 11 tracks. What inspired the title?

The choice behind the title “Thin The Veil” has more personal implications to the project, than the album. The term itself references the barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds. In retrospect, it is a direction that myself and the other core members have always taken inside and outside the project. It is something that I feel wasn't always the intent before in the writing process, but this is a term we, as members, started recently giving thought to when conducting our work in front of a live audience.  In turn, looking back at certain writing methods we conducted over the years, we realized how often we had incorporated this term into our work. Once we had written a certain amount of songs for the new album, it was agreed to name the release “Thin The Veil”. It made sense based on how the songs were written, the individuals involved and the obstacles we overcame to complete the album.  As you mentioned, 11 songs, also 11 letters in THIN THE VEIL... 11:11.

M.I. - Recently the new video and single for the track “Decapitation of The Gods” was released and it sounds awesome. How have the reactions to it been so far?

Well, the track “Decapitation of the Gods” is possibly one of the most traditional and furious Black Metal songs the project has ever written. It is rabid, assaulting and to the point. The track seems to have pleasantly taken people by surprise. The track at first listen, will grab your attention, especially in terms of the drums done by Hellhammer. When in the studio, I explained how fast the drumming needed to be, but personally I was not prepared for the outcome. Jan stepped up to the changing on that track and the other songs throughout the album. At this point we are anxious to reveal the rest of the album, which will be released on January 24th, 2020.

M.I. - The band now collaborates with legendary drummer Hellhammer and bassist Andy Winter… how has this collaboration worked so far? How did the idea of doing it come up?

I have been in contact with Hellhammer for many years now and we have always shared a mutual respect for each other’s work. Back in 2008 I had told Jan I would be traveling to Norway and wanted to meet up at some point during the trip.  We met in Oslo and he drove me to certain locations such as Helvete, the house Dead committed suicide and the cemetery where Euronymous was buried.  At that time, I was in the process of writing material for the album “Fury Nocturnus”. I had my 4-track recorder and contact mic with me, so I decided to conduct a field recording on Euronymous head stone and then let Hellhammer listen to what I had done. We then discussed the possibility on doing drums for the track and he agreed. So, during Mayhem's 2009 tour in the States, I met Jan at the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia, where they were playing that night, and then drove to a studio called Satan Palace in New Jersey to record.  During that session, he recorded drum tracks for that song entitled "Ignite the Torch Again" and several other spontaneous drums beats that later I incorporated into other songs on that album. Once I had written the material for “Thin The Veil”, I contacted Jan about doing drums for the album and we set a date for him to fly over from Norway to record. Jan had asked if I minded that a friend of his, Andy Winter from the band Winds, could come along with him during the recording session. I had no problems with his request and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I found Andy to be an intriguing, talented musician. Someone that was quite intellectual on many subjects, and a sense of humour I could relate too. On the final day of recording, while listening back to the tracks with Hellhammer, Andy mentioned how he liked the material and offered to play bass on the album. I immediately agreed. Andy played bass on the majority of the tracks for the album and as I previously stated, one of the best decisions I've ever made. 

M.I. - The new album also features collaborations with musicians such as Craig Smilowski (Ex-Immolation) and Duncan McLaren of Venom Wolf, as well as spoken necromancy spells recited by Maurice De Jong ("Mories" of Gnaw Their Tongues).  Are these one-off collaborations or are they something to keep in the future?

I have had many collaborative musicians perform with T.O.M.B. on past releases. On our new album, we introduced Tyler Butkovsky on guitar.  About two years ago, we began to work with Tyler as our sound engineer for live shows. During the recording process of “Thin The Veil”, we approached Tyler to assist us on several songs and he is now a core member of the project. Craig Smilowski is someone I have known for many years.  In the past, we had played together in the band Goreaphobia. I asked Craig to play drums for certain songs on the album Hellhammer did not have time to record during his recording session. We also approached Duncan McLaren to perform bass on those same songs. Duncan is another person we have used in the past to conduct sound for us live.  We also had him play bass on the cover song of “Death Crush” we recorded with Hellhammer during his recording session. "Mories" of Gnaw Their Tongues is someone I have always wanted to collaborate with at some level.  In the past, both our projects have been released under the label Crucial Blast. I approached him about reciting particular necromancy spells over two different field recorded soundscape tracks for the album.  His unique vocal style worked well with the harsh ancient ritual aspects of the songs.  

M.I. - The band has always written lyrics about death, paranormal activity and occult practices. Are the same subjects approached in the lyrics of the new album?

From a lyrical standpoint, we stayed consistent with subject matter surrounding death, paranormal activities and occult practices. These elements have always been important factors in our music and personal lives. As the soul lyricist of T.O.M.B., I reached deep into the subconscious corridors of my spiritual origins on this album and I am very satisfied with the results.

M.I. - The album was mastered by Tore Stjerna of the Necromorbus Studios in Sweden and the artwork was done by underground occult artist Paul Barton. Why have you opted to work with these people?

These were both very simple choices for us. Opening several times for Watain in the past, gave us the opportunity to experience Tore's techniques when mixing music live. We found him to be extremely professional, with a dedicated approach to ensuring the artist signature sound is captured correctly in different live settings. Those qualities, combined with his personal involvement in Black Metal over the years as an artist and engineer, made him the obvious choice in mastering our album. Artist Paul Barton has been a personal friend of the project for over a decade. He had been involved as a core member in the past, conducting vocals for T.O.M.B. during live performances. His occult knowledge and personal practices have been inspirational to the development of the project. In addition, he has done artwork for several of our previous releases such as UAG, Pennhurst/XESSE, and Third Wave Holocaust.  I had a very specific visual concept for the artwork for “Thin The Veil”.  Because of our years of occult involvement, Paul was able to understand the artistic direction I wanted to take and achieved it perfectly.  

M.I. - T.O.M.B will be touring with Mortiis in January and February 2020 in the US. Are you excited? Do you think Mortiis and T.O.M.B attract the same kind of audience, appeal to the same kind of listener?

Our upcoming tour with Mortiis in January 2020 is extremely exciting for us. Mortiis is an artist that several T.O.M.B. members have respected over the course of his musical career and in early days being involved in Emperor. Personally, I feel both musical styles will effectively accent each other’s projects very well! The potential appeal of this bill would bring together an audience into black metal, industrial, doom, power electronics and dungeon synth alike.  

M.I. - Are there any plans for the band to tour Europe in the near future?

None at this point, but always is a huge goal of the project. T.O.M.B. has had the opportunity before, only twice in Europe, and are hopeful to get more opportunities following the release of the new album.

M.I. - Your bold style has earned the band a well-deserved place as one of the top innovators of modern-day Black Metal. What do you think of the current situation of the underground scene… better or worse compared to a few years ago? Why?

Being considered a top innovator in terms of modern Black Metal is a rewarding attribute to the path of conviction T.O.M.B. continues to take. The underground is obviously different now from how it was several years ago. From a positive prospective, it is refreshing to see those original bands, get the recognition they deserve for their many years of service and dedication they put into retaining those true ethics that are important to Black Metal and extreme music. Those artists have paved the way for others like myself, to push their work past any and all boundaries. The limitations that prevent any artist from their intentions to express themselves without restrictions and ridicule.    

M.I. - Your initial inspiration came from bands such as Abruptum, Havohej, Samael and Sunno)))… do you still listen to them these days? Any other bands worth mentioning?

There are times I will listen back to those inspirational artists, some bands more than others. I do listen to a lot of different styles of music though. When it comes to Black Metal, there have been a couple of artists and albums I have recently gone back to enjoy such as Immortal’s “Pure Holocaust”, Satyricon’s “Volcano” and Enslaved’s “Monumension”. 

M.I. - What’s been on your playlist recently?

This year I have enjoyed listening to the new Mayhem and Profanatica albums.

M.I. - Please share a message with the Portuguese readers of Metal Imperium Webzine and T.O.M.B’s fans.

In closing, I would wish to thank Sonia Fonseca of Metal Imperium for her interest and interview. To the maniacs of Portugal, men and women alike who are new or old fans of T.O.M.B., I personally appreciate your interest in what we have conducted over the years. With our new album, you will discover yet another intense progression of our work and I look forward to someday performing in your homeland.     

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca