Review Summary: Musical sophistication in metalcore.
Heavy music in general is notorious for it's redundancy. Philadelphia's Towers somehow has figured out a way to imbue the genre of metalcore with a new take. Their latest release 'Full Circle' has established the band as both an inventive and interesting force. Previous releases were far more clear in their influence, but Towers has layered their approach with a variety of techniques (i.e. ring modulators) and somehow managed to make the most complete musical statement of the year. 'Full Circle' is aggressive, melodic, technical, and brash. The record as a whole seems to have been designed with the vinyl format in mind as the first half of it favors a far more progressively hard sound while the ending of the album embraces a much more melodic and accessible approach.
'Let Them Eat Cake' starts off 'Full Circle' with a slur of guitar effects and an almost subdued sound. This clearly changes one minute into the track when the band transitions into a heavy section that could be described with numerous post-suffix references. To be blatant when Towers enters the heavy portions of this album they definitely sound like they came out of the 1990s. Bands just aren't playing such atonal, heavy music. '235 Ways To Suck Seed' shows how the band also is able to incorporate their effect based sound as a transition into the heavier portions of their music. The tones found on this album are surprisingly refreshing and in my mind I have never heard a band in the realm of aggressive music use sonic texture in such a unique way. Groups like Isis may spring to mind but Towers isn't necessarily playing slow, extended pieces. The entirety of this album is twenty four minutes and the amount of ground covered in that time is very impressive. Tracks like 'Beta' and 'Hope' show that Towers is willing to step out into the more melodic realms of "hardcore" and that really strengthens the finale of 'Full Circle'. Steve Roche's intimate production also really adds to Towers overall sound on this record giving it a raw yet layered sound.
2009 has already established itself as a year where the most interesting records have been those that embrace a variety of sounds. If anything the closing of this decade has helped fully verbalize some of the more childish and earlier attempts at fusing heavy music with a supposed sophistication. 'Jane Doe' still holds the crown of the most accomplished "heavy" record of the decade, but Towers has clearly made themselves an original yet easily listenable piece of work with 'Full Circle'. Perhaps it's lack of traditional dynamics doesn't allow for it to be heralded as the perfection that is 'Jane Doe', but 'Full Circle' should be reconigized for how easily it tosses through such aggressive sounding music without come off as passe. It is a record that helps expand the vocabulary of aggressive music and for someone to do that in 2009 is in itself an impressive task. The fact that 'Full Circle' also is such a listenable document is what clearly puts it ahead of anything released in '09 so far and most likely what will give it the title of record of the year.