Sunday, July 25, 2010

Deathrow - Towers in Darkness 7" (1992)

Nothing beats a good old arcane eye/crystal ball/bat-demon to grace the cover of your first 7" single, and only single. Deathrow wanted to presumably celebrate the arrival of their 4th album Life Beyond with something special, after 3 years of silence, so they put out this limited edition record with an album track "Towers in Darkness" and two bonuses that were not available elsewhere. Privately I would love to tease myself into believing that these unreleased tracks would somehow counteract my disappointment with the band's final full-length. One of them is actually fairly good, but the other suffers too much from the similar vocals which would dominate much of Life Beyond.

First, of course, there is the A-side, "Towers in Darkness", which is one of the better and more diverse pieces musically on Life Beyond, with some slowly bludgeoning chords that work their way up into a nearly 5 minute sequence of acceptable riffing, even if its not at a Deception Ignored level of polish and punctuation. The vocals and lyrics do conspire to bring down the house, though, especially those like the following:

We have elevators, we have terminators
We have Arnold Schwarzenegger
We have batman, Superman, Spiderman
These are all heroes we want to be, to falsify the world we see

I get the point of the song, and its not a bad one, but compare this to the better phrased, blunt reality of Deception Ignored and it feels a little 'street' and silly. "Somewhere in the Night" is thankfully a superior tune, with over 4 minutes going into it, slowly rising and falling through a series of epic riffs that are easily the match of anything on the full-length it accompanies. The vocals are hardly a forte here either, but they are probably the most acceptable of the band post 1989, with a slight tinge of the whiny madness that Milo espoused on the band's masterpiece. I can't see why this would be omitted from the full-length, since you'd figure the better material should end up there. "We Can Change" seems pretty pithy compared to the other two tracks. There are nice guitars, good bass lines and some great piano here (not the first time they've visited that approach), but the vocals are a little lame and most of the thrash riffs, like the descending pattern in the post-chorus, are very pedestrian and uninspired.

Only a small population of listeners would be exposed to Towers of Darkness. It's limited print run would see to that. But I wonder if there were any, like myself, among those numbers that heard this and pulled the disc off their record player, hurling at a wall. I wonder just how many copies have survived through the years. Did this material spread fear among the fan of either the band's blood curdling, frenetic early speed/thrash phase or their sole flirtation with perfection some years prior? It would have fucking terrified me, and forced me to sleep with a gun under my pillow, one eye open. I did not hear this when it came out though, nor the full-length Life Beyond, so my sleeplessness was at least delayed for a few years. There's really not much value in the single, since one of the tracks is available on the album, one is forgettable entirely, and the other is just pretty good. What I'm saying is a few points for the exclusive material, take a few swigs of something stiff to forget all the pain that this inspires, and call me in the morning.

Verdict: Fail [3.5/10]

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