Having never before heard Breach (ex-band of Terra Tenebrosa members), I was somewhat taken aback by the ferocity and obscurity of The Tunnels. While the album ultimately has metal at its core, it’s been merged with nightmarish textures and coated in grimy tar-black, with the end result adopting a disturbingly unfamiliar form.
Rhythm plays a vital role propelling the listener toward the hideous and inhuman sounds that pour out of the dark – cymbals become the hiss of angry hydraulics, bass and snare become a repetitive churn of gruesome machinery – offering the stability and forward motion required to prevent the grunts, scrapes and guitar stabs from descending into a hysterical mess. Often the drums are blotted out almost entirely by the blackened noise-fog that descends and suffocates, but they can always be sensed, even as the subtlest thumps and snaps that delicately tether The Tunnels to reality.
Comparisons can be drawn to Deathspell Omega (and perhaps Blut Aus Nord to an extent), for the way in which Terra Tenebrosa keep the dark imagery pouring in thick and fast – voices chatter over each other in oblivious rambling bursts, guitar and bass grind in dissonant downtuned anti-harmonies, synthesizers send jets of light streaming over the top. The band describe the album as “an ominous and cinematic voyage through the dark mind and psyche of Terra Tenebrosa monarch, The Cuckoo”. It’s sinister, introspective – often overcrowded with incomprehensible thoughts that fight for precedence – but while The Tunnels may reek of absolute chaos, the impeccable quality of the final product reminds you that really, the band are firmly in command and know exactly what they’re doing. Top stuff.