Formed by members of Sweden’s now-defunct Breach, enigmatic entity Terra Tenebrosa takes a bold approach both with their music and with the visual presentation of the band itself. Their debut album The Tunnels is full of pictures of the band members clothed in creepy masks and shrouded in shadows. Fortunately, Terra Tenebrosa’s music is good enough to legitimize the creative costume choices, providing the perfect sonic backdrop to complement the uneasiness the band’s imagery creates.
The sound Terra Tenebrosa have crafted is definitely unique. Sort of an avant-garde sludge metal, their sound is almost like a mix of Dark Tribe and Blut Aus Nord without the black metal. The Tunnels displays impressive musical creativity, mixing numerous vocal styles and subtle ambience with very unorthodox guitar work. The drumming is sort of a controlled chaos and only adds to the confusion. The songs themselves range from fast-paced burners to lengthy plodding instrumentals - tracks like ‘Probing The Abyss’ are more riff-based, while others like ‘Guiding The Mist / Terraforming’ take longer to develop, layering on sound and gradually building. The album sounds almost primitive at times due to the pulsing, often-technical drumming and disturbingly unnatural vocals.
Probably my favorite thing about this album is that it manages to be both incredibly creepy and very musically interesting. There’s no pointless technical noodling here - Terra Tenebrosa clearly have a singular vision of the atmosphere they wanted to create with this album, and every one of the album’s crooked, bizarre riffs is completely focused toward that purpose. Terra Tenebrosa is a very ambitious project, and at least with this album the band has executed their vision perfectly.