It’s never too early to start noting those albums that you want to revisit come November, when you set out on that wall-punching, hair-tearing, talking-to-yourself-in-loud-voices descent into madness — compiling your Albums of the Year list. 2016 has unleashed an uncommonly diverse and verdant avalanche of quality metal and come year’s end, there will be no dearth of candidates for that hallowed list. In the interest of culling the annual pool, many print outlets foreclose writers from nominating EPs, and certainly there’s a obvious reasoning beyond contriving arbitrary rules to promote manageability — EPs can often feel lazy and incomplete, whereas good or bad, a full-length album represents a fully-contained artistic statement. As this is my site however, I shall unburden myself of that sonic crown of thorns and allow myself to celebrate whatever the hell turns me on. With that, let’s dive in to the new Tombs EP, All Empires Fall — 24 minutes of sledging black metal riffs, dizzying polyrhythms and the sinister snarl of vocalist Mike Hill. Relegating Tombs to the confines of black metal is like describing Saving Private Ryan as a movie about a teacher. Yeah, that’s true, but there’s so much more in play. All Empires Fall does deliver a scything black metal belter with Obsidian, but Tombs’ ambitions have always extended well beyond any simple genre blend. From the corrosively sludgy riffage of opener Deceiver to the utterly transfixing experimental voyaging of Last Days Of Sunlight, All Empires Fall gathers a blackened arcade of sounds and textures and synthesizes them into a singularly brooding and wholly-captivating trek into dark, frosted landscapes and bludgeoning torrents of thunder. The World Is Made Of Fire, a surging, riff-driven instrumental of chest-beating peaks and cavernous valleys offers a provocative psych metal diversion. As with any album worth its salt, repeated listens will continue to reveal exhilarating new melodies and spiky riffs embedded in these ginormous walls of sound. Gorgeous stuff from top-to-bottom.