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Mythological Cold Towers : Immemorial

There's still room for improvement on the fourth album of Brazilian Death/Doom band Mythological Cold Towers.

This is the fourth album from Brazilian Death/Doom band Mythological Cold Towers, continuing their common theme of musical exploration of ancient legends and vanished civilisations. The band has been together since 1994: the relaxed schedule of releases since the debut 'Sphere Of Nebaddon' in 1996 perhaps having something to do with each of the members playing in, and recording with, several other groups (Templum, Spell Forest, Nechrist et al). Not altogether coincidentally, most of these other projects are differing flavours of Black/Death metal influences that have been dominant in previous albums.

'Immemorial' is a move away from that, back towards a more traditional Doom sound, quite keyboard-heavy and delivered at a cool, almost languid pace. The mix is an understated one, introducing a presumably deliberate low-fidelity blurring effect to the instruments: whilst not unpleasant, it invites the thought that Paradise Lost's 'Gothic' is still a considerable source of inspiration. Vocalist Samej has more or less completely abandoned variations of vocal style, adopting a hoarse growl that seems closer to chanting than singing. Also not unpleasant, it fits with the somewhat passionless context of the music without lifting it to any great heights.

In fact, if anything provides a consistent lift to the album, it is the use of keyboards to interject, emphasise and underlie the various passages. Against the often largely monotone background, these stand out as the most interesting features. To a lesser extent, and with less frequency, the lead guitar does likewise: the remaining instruments tend to fade into the background distortion and rhythm, where the mix does them few favours.

A brief 4-minute piece about the search for Eldorado, opener 'Lost Path To Ma- Noa' makes good use of a mid-paced, heavily-distorted, rumbling bass line and contrasting clear guitar and piano. It is followed by the more melodic 'Akakor' (the story of the city on which the Indiana Jones Crystal Skull film was based...!), which draws a measured pace between thematic variations and gives the drummer more input. This is probably the best track on the album, fitting a lot of progression into a mere 6 minutes.

From there, the longer 'Enter The Halls...' has a faster, lilting sustained drive that shows off the band's metal influences, marred somewhat by a short spoken piece that abruptly swallows almost every syllable. 'The Shrines Of Ibez' draws on an ultra-heavy bass line and guttural vocals to effectively depict a legendary subterrene civilisation. Aside from a slightly peculiar attempt to introduce a near-psychedelic interjection early on, 'Like An Ode...' is both a generic subject and a generic filler that makes few advances. That leads on to the bolder 9-minute 'Fallen Race', on the destruction of Atlantis. The brass- like keyboard introduction leads into a slow and deliberate paced passage with contrasting atonal piano and swirling, supporting keys, then on to a gently acoustic section - with a much better spoken vocal and a reprise of the slow opening. Finally, 'Immemorial's largely acoustic and softer sound is musically enjoyable but seems a poor fit to the quite gruff and forceful vocals that overlay it.

All in all, there is more to this album than first meets the ear: it rewards repeated listening with the discovery of extra touches or flourishes otherwise drowned in amongst the mix. That said, it was necessary to play it through and concentrate several times in order to get a fair review: under other circumstances, it would have been unlikely to get much more than a second hearing, given that the extra touches are not really enough to lift it to the levels of excellence. The music is a good match for the unusual direction of tales of the dust-covered skeletons of history: in that respect, the lack of emotional input and the often-laconic delivery do set the right tone to imagine those places as they are today, in ruins. However, it is still at heart a competent yet firm derivative of the early Peaceville sound. As such, basically one for people who think all albums should sound something like 'As The Flower Withers'.

Reviewer's rating: 6.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Lost Path To Ma-Noa
2. Akakor
3. Enter The Halls...
4. The Shrines Of Ibez
5. Like An Ode Forged In Immemorial Eras
6. Fallen Race
7. Immemorial

Duration : Approx. 43 minutes

Visit the Mythological Cold Towers bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-10-27 by Mike Liassides
Rotten Copper
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