Interview with Mike Hill of Tombs

Brooklyn black metal alchemists Tombs are set to release their third album entitled Savage Gold today. One of the year’s most anticipated albums, the follow up to 2011’s critically lauded Path of Totality delivers everything fans could expect it to. Hellbound’s Matt Hinch fired off a few questions to vocalist/guitarist/mastermind Mike Hill and his responses to inquiries about the new album, new members and a couple heavy subjects are informative and thought provoking as always. Now we’ve got a Michele Soavi film to find.

Given the critical success (nothing metal can be considered a commercial success) of Path of Totality, did you feel any pressure to better that 

Though it’s an honour to be recognized, We don’t really take any of that stuff to heart.  I think I speak for the rest of the band when I say that we just want to push ourselves and make the best music that we can.

Any reviews I’ve seen for Savage Gold are full of praise (including mine). Do you read many reviews of your work? If so, what’s the most ridiculous thing you can recall reading in one?

I hardly ever read any of the reviews.

I get the feeling your mind never stops. Are your thoughts always surrounded with potential for Tombs (or Everything Went Black) or do you set aside time for those things?

I try to keep things compartmentalized. When it’s time to do stuff with the band I’m all in. But when it’s time to kick back and recharge, I’m not going to be thinking of the band and podcasting.

Could you explain the concept behind the album’s title? I mean, gold is not something that can possess an attribute such as savagery. I know you’re not being literal but even in the context of “Thanatos” it’s not necessarily very clear.

One of the goals of alchemy is transforming lead into gold, transforming from a lower state into a more enlightened, elevated state. Most of the album deals with death and transformation. The title is informed by that.

Was there anything in particular that inspired you in creating this record?

Anna Falchi in Delamorte Dellamore.

You’ve got a couple new members in Garett Bussanick and Ben Brand. What kind of impact did they have on Savage Gold?

Ben really brought the rhythm section to a new level. Our former bassist Carson was a solid player whose sound was anchored in having heavy tone. Ben is more technical. Garett added a lot with his guitar parts, which were more of a reaction to the parts that I wrote. He brought a really interesting X-factor the the album.

Erik Rutan handled production. He’s most notably a death metal producer. What were you hoping to achieve in bringing him in?

Heavy drum production; I felt like our earlier records sacrificed clarity for “atmosphere.” Rutan gives us a cleaner production where you can actually hear all of the little details that Andrew performed on his drum parts.

It seems like every time we turn around some young person is killing, or at least trying to kill large amounts of people for seemingly bullshit reasons. Like this latest one where the kid went on a rampage because he couldn’t get a girlfriend. I know mental illness is a real problem but do you sometimes feel that today’s youth are ill-equipped to deal with the realities of life? And what can be done to change that?

I think a lot of it has to do with the antidepressants and prescription drugs.  Parents are quick to embrace pharmacological solutions instead of really getting into the emotional problems of their kids. I’m not surprised kids are rampaging.

Is there a belief system you feel has it mostly right? Or is every one just grasping at straws?

Any attempt of humanity to try and explain the universe is completely ridiculous to me. Even our perception of reality is a function of evolution. Humans have evolved to filter out most of reality for survival reasons.

Are there some lesser known bands you could recommend to fans of Tombs? And why?

Definitely. There’s a band called Alraune from Nashville that are totally amazing. They are younger guys but have an interesting approach to the US Black Metal trip. Windfaerer and Dystrophy from New Jersey. Both are really excellent bands in the extreme metal world. Statiq Bloom, totally tripped out industrial band from here in Brooklyn. It’s the real deal; great live and on record.

If you had one piece of advice for young aspiring bands, what would that be?

Follow your gut and your heart; don’t try to follow any trends and do what you want.

Savage Gold is available from Relapse Records.


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