While supergroup may be too strong a word to describe New York-based band Silvertomb, the group definitely has a strong lineage. The band was founded by Type O Negative members Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly. Together they recruited Joseph James (Agnostic Front), Hank Hell (Inhuman), and Aaron Joos (Empyreon). The resulting mix is a melodic type of doom metal.
The missing link in Silvertomb’s evolution from the previous band Type O Negative is Seventh Void. Formed while Type O Negative was still active in the metal scene, Seventh Void was the side project of Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly, playing guitar and drums respectively as they did in their previous band.
Joining Seventh Void on bass was Hank Hell from the local Brooklyn hardcore band Inhuman. A second guitarist was then added, recruiting Joseph James from NYHC legends Agnostic Front. The result was a band heavier and thrashier than Type O Negative.
After the metal scene was shocked by the untimely death of Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele, Hickey and Kelly persevered and continued with their project. In 2015 they debuted with their well-received album, Heaven is Gone. While working on their follow-up, the band added Aaron Joos of Empyreon to play keyboards. The addition of a new instrument to the group so greatly altered the sound of the band that it was decided that they had to reform into a newer project. Thus Silvertomb was born.
Silvertomb returns to the melodic and textured sound of Type O Negative with the inclusion of the ethereal melody of keyboards. This doesn’t mean that the band members’ New York hardcore roots are abandoned as Silvertomb is still very much a balls-out heavy band.
Their sound is best exemplified in their latest single, “So True,” off their debut album Edge of Existence. There is that typical sludge sound that is a trademark of doom metal, basically the result of metalheads who listened to Black Sabbath and hardcore punk. There is, however, more than that going on as well. There is prog-rock musicianship in there as well. The song lures you in with a beautiful melody at the start of the song before cranking up the sonic levels with intense drumming and shrieking.
Right off the bat, the lyrics are confrontational;
The lyrics seem to call out the tendency for people to accept delusion and self-doubt rather than confront reality and take charge of their own lives.
The imagery in the video best exemplifies the themes of “So True.” Somewhat reminiscent of the animation in Metalocalypse, the video for “So True” depicts a druid-like figure overseeing a heathen assembly. Removing his hood he reveals long dark hair. His followers reveal their faces which eerily mirror his own.
The followers open their mouths to receive a communion in the form of pills that they dutifully swallow. Eventually the their metamorphose into vicious beasts tearing up their own leader who continues to sing, “It’s so you, it’s so you,” as his head is passed around during the frenzy.
Kenny Hickey has made no secret of his battles with alcohol and his fight to maintain positive mental health. This song can clearly be scene as a type of purging of his own insecurities and past traumas. The cult in the video can further be viewed as a warning of how such inner demons can manifest to the outer world and have a negative social and political impact.
“So True” is a strong first single from an even stronger debut album from Silvertomb. Rising from the ashes of Seventh Void and with roots in New York legends Type O Negative and Agnostic Front, Silvertomb is tough enough to survive and make its dent in the metal scene. For much of the recording of this album, most of the guys in the band never quit their blue-collar union jobs. They live metal the only way you can, by sticking to your roots and never giving up. This theme of tenacity and survival is evident in Edge of Existence and will most certainly continue throughout the rest of the band’s career.