In the Meet The Band spotlight this week is the Georgia progressive black metal duo Tomarum. Their full-length debut album is Ash In Realms Of Stone. Kyle Walburn (guitars, vocals, programming) and Brandon Iacovella (guitars, vocals, contrabass) introduce us to their band.
Give us a brief history of Tomarum.
Kyle Walburn: I started writing music for Tómarúm in 2017 as a means to cope with some difficult stuff I was going through at the time. It was originally supposed to be a one-off solo project, but I put a full lineup together after I began to feel really strongly about how the songs were turning out. One demo, one EP, a handful of shows, and some lineup changes later, here we are with our debut record Ash in Realms of Stone Icons.
Describe the songwriting process for Ash In Realms Of Stone Icons.
Kyle: To be completely honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I still feel like I barely do. I don’t know anything about chords, scales, time signatures etc. so it was a lot of trial and error and playing based on feeling. The album was written sequentially, with “Condemned to a Life of Grief” being the first song written and “Awake into Eternal Slumber” being the last song written. This was intentional to ensure that the album provided a cohesive listening experience with a strong beginning, climactic midpoint, and huge ending. This method was also used within each song to achieve the same effect.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Kyle: I don’t have a specific strongest memory from the recording process; each session was fun, cathartic, and intensive. My strongest memories come after the recording process. Listening to the final master for the first time, signing our deal with Prosthetic, and receiving the test presses for the vinyl version were all surreal and incredibly validating moments; signs that all of our hard work over the years was beginning to pay off.
Did the pandemic affect the process?
Kyle: Definitely. The first wave of the pandemic hit right when we were getting ready to start recording, so it got delayed by a few months, and then when we actually started recording we did so masked and as socially distanced as possible. I think it actually worked out in our favor, since we were able to really put our all into the record without other distractions and then come back stronger than ever post-pandemic.
How has the band’s sound evolved from your 2020 EP Wounds Ever Expanding?
Kyle: The entire record was written prior to our Wounds Ever Expanding, but it’s more indicative of the direction we’re going in. The songs are heavier, more focused, and significantly more emotive. I feel like we blended the tech-death and black metal influences a lot better on Ash In Realms Of Stone and I’m a lot prouder of what we created here than any of our prior output.
What inspired the album title?
Kyle: The album title is part of a line in the closing track “Awake into Eternal Slumber” that goes, “Will I awake into eternal slumber? Or will I remain ash in realms of stone icons, which stand high above my withered frame?”
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Kyle: All of the lyrics I write center around my own personal struggles with mental health and certain situations in my life that have contributed to it. The lyrics are sometimes very blunt and sometimes a bit more poetic, but all genuinely depict how I felt at the time of their writing.
How did you come to sign with Prosthetic Records?
Kyle: Steve, the U.S. label manager, reached out to us at the beginning of 2021. He had loved our previous EP, had seen that we were working on a full-length, and was interested in working with us. After a few months of discussion, we sent him a rough mix of a track off of the record, and after further discussion and reviewing the deal we decided Prosthetic would be a good home for us. Steve and the team have been awesome to work with and we’re excited to continue working with them on our future releases.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Kyle: I don’t have expectations, per se, but I am hopeful that reception to the record will continue to be as positive as it has been towards the singles. Goals-wise, I just want to tour as much as possible and continue to build a fanbase. Every song on the album has a lot of personal significance to me and was super cathartic to write and record. I hope those who listen to our record experience a similar cathartic feeling.
What has been your most memorable Tomarum live show?
Kyle: We’ve only played a few shows, but the most memorable so far have been playing with Falls of Rauros and Wayfarer, our release show for Wounds Ever Expanding and playing with Sanguisugabogg.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Kyle: We’ve got a run of East Coast dates with Dawn of Ouroboros from May 29 to June 4 that we’re really looking forward to. We’d like to do another run of shows later in the year too, but we’ll see what happens.
How did you get started in music?
Kyle: I started playing guitar when I was 10 and have always wanted to be a musician. I never really gave writing a shot until I was 19 due to self-doubts, but pretty quickly began writing material I felt strongly about and have been pursuing it seriously ever since.
Brandon Iacovella: I grew up listening to all kinds of music, mostly classic rock and ballads and stuff that my mom and dad loved. I then got super into metal around the beginning of middle school when I rediscovered Korn and Slipknot, and I just kept seeking more and more extreme and progressive music. Being from Quebec really benefitted me as well. On a few trips up there from the states around age 13, some metal shop owners introduced me to the legendary prog/tech death from our scene and from there it was over for me haha! I got super sucked into it. I started playing guitar right before then when I was 12 after finding my dad’s old beat up nylon string from when he was a teenager. I got my first electric guitar soon after at age 13, and have been playing ever since.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Kyle: My biggest influence has always been Wolves in the Throne Room. I just love how much depth and emotional weight their music has; that’s something I’ve always strived for in my own writing. I’m also super inspired by progressive death metal bands like Beyond Creation and Warforged.
Brandon: Like other metalheads I was exposed at one point to the gateway bands like Korn, Slipknot, Megadeth, etc. But the earliest bands that truly had an impact on me and changed the way I look at music were those Quebec based bands from back home that I was introduced to: Augury, Beyond Creation, First Fragment, Gorguts, etc, in addition to bands like Necrophagist, Obscura, Emperor, Opeth, Ne Obliviscaris, Warforged, Fallujah and so on. There are too many to name! As a side note, I will say that the work of QC based guitarist/songwriter Phil Tougas has probably inspired all of my music the most.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Kyle: My first metal concert was the 2012 Summer Slaughter Tour, I was 15 at the time. Cannibal Corpse, Between the Buried and Me, The Faceless, Job for a Cowboy, Exhumed among others. Great way to get started.
Brandon: For me I believe it was the 2014 Summer Slaughter Tour, when I was 15 as well. Fallujah, Decrepit Birth, The Faceless, and Dying Fetus blew my mind.
What are some of your non musical interests and hobbies?
Kyle: I’ve been playing Elden Ring a ton; that’s been my main non-music hobby recently. I also like horror and comedy movies, getting tattooed, and reading.
Brandon: I’m a huge language learning nut. In recent years/months it’s cooled down a bit due to work being busy and focusing on music more, but I even went to Japan for two years to study Japanese specifically. I also study French and Italian due to my family background, as well as Japanese for the past 7 years or so. Cooking and gaming are also big passions of mine.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Kyle: Nidernes, Mare Cognitum, Saidan, Tukaaria, Arizmenda, Negative Plane, Trhä, Lamp of Murmuur, Dessiderium, Warforged, Eerified Catacomb, Arkhtinn to name a few.
Brandon: Mostly Warforged, Kaatayra, Greylotus, Chrome Ghost, Artificial Brain, Jarhead Fertilizer, Chthe’ilist, Worm, Luminous Vault, Anal Stabwound, Mortiferum, and Lamp of Murmuur as well. The rotation changes constantly!
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Kyle: Dates for our tour with Dawn of Ouroboros are as follows:
5/29 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Scandals Live
5/30 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Black Forge Coffee Shop (McKees Rocks)
5/31 – TBD
6/1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
6/2 – Philadelphia, PA @ Foto Club
6/3 – Washington, DC @ Atlas Brew Works
6/4 – Milton, DE @ Brimming Horn Meadery
(interview published May 7, 2022)
Watch Tomarum – “Condemned To A Life Of Grief” Video