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Towers….Of DOOM - 78%

DawnoftheShred, February 26th, 2010

Acquired during one of my occasional, extended binges into various metal subgenres (in this case, provoked by a longing for new and exciting things in the land of Doom), Towers is the earliest release from the evocatively named Burning Witch. They’re apparently more well known these days as a springboard for guitarist Stephen O’Malley’s more infamous project Sunn O))), but since I’m really not in the mood to beat on that dead horse, I think it’s more important to judge them in terms of themselves and what they’ve managed to achieve in just the few short years in which they were active.

And what Burning Witch has done is fairly scintillating. They play a dreadfully slow form of doom metal, near the tempo of the funeral bands without being akin to any that I’ve heard. Mildly reminiscent of Cathedral’s earliest endeavors, the Towers EP is a particularly joyless strain, full of mountainous riffs that overshadow its duration in a veil of despair. The guitars have an attractive tone for this sort of thing; devastating, but with a warm undertone that suggests some sort of phaser effect is being utilized. But if the guitars seem strangely calm, the vocals are most assuredly not. Vocalist “Edgy 59” is a miserable son of a bitch, his delivery fluctuating between a terrifying screech and a cleaner take that strangely reminds one of an amateur Charlie Dominici. Toneless is not the proper word to describe him, as this implies that there is no melody whatsoever, or that atonality was an objective. It’s more as if he could care less what sort of sound comes out of his mouth so long as it appears to fit the music; tone-aloofness if you will. The effect is dramatic, and will likely keep you coming back to ponder again and again.

It’s a bit single-dimensional and purposefully repetitive; only a brief window of relief occurs at the beginning of “Sea Hag,” one of several strangely unserious titles on what is otherwise seriously heavy metal tracks. But the overall diagnosis is positive (unlike the EP's aura, which is pretty negative). Grief was more compelling in my opinion, but the Witch is also worthy, especially for those wishing to bathe in waves of monstrous riffs.