Recorded in two sessions: Studio 6 with Stuart McKay, July 2009 (guitars and drums); Hellfire Studios with Ajeet Gill, September 2009 (vocals). Mixed by Ajeet Gill, mastered by Mick Kenney. Cover art by Jack Welch and Joe Hill. All lyrics by Anil Carrier. Track six was written and performed by Adrian Powell. All music composed by Tom Hinksman and Anil Carrier.
This is a remarkably good album by UK Midlands’ band Towers of Flesh. They do say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and I must admit that I did begin to listen to this album with a certain prejudice based on its artwork and the band name.
I imagine that the name ‘Towers of Flesh’ was meant to illicit scenes of gore and horror. Sadly though, it just made me think of, I dunno, the bins in the backyard at a liposuction clinic?
The album opens (as it closes) with a gentle, melodic instrumental (“The Becoming”) that rather took me by surprise by its thoughtfulness and, I guess, beauty. The next four tracks are most definitely in the black/death metal genre: fast-picked riffs, throaty vocals, blast-beat drums, before the album ends with another quiet piece (“The Perpetual Paradox”), played mostly on piano, violins and vocals—the latter two obviously keyboard effects, but no less effective.
This is an interesting album, which is always a good thing for me. The songs don’t all sound the same, there is an almost prog element to the songs in that they are not structured in a predictable verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern. As is typical of songs in this genre, while the playing is fast (thrashing guitars, thundering drums) the melodies are very simple and the tempo is not to fast, probably in the allegro (109-132 bpm) range. The vocals growl rather satisfyingly too—it’s not the uncontrolled shouting of my other recent reviews.
The lyrics are proper black metal: dark and brooding, filled with all sorts of occult imagery. I obviously can’t say whether the band believes in what they are singing about, or whether, like Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt announced during their live recording at the Royal Albert Hall, they just think of it as “pure black metal nonsense”. Not exactly my cup of tea (or rather it is, as I don’t drink tea) but as the lyrics aren’t exactly pronounced clearly they are not a stumbling block to enjoying the music (regardless of what it might be doing unconsciously!); the vocals become yet another texture.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this short album. I fully expected to not like it, instead I’ve grown to really appreciate it over the last few weeks of listening. This is a genuinely good black metal album: it doesn’t feel contrived, it’s well played, it’s not one dimensional. Definitely check them out!
Review score: 85%