Review Summary: Rusted, but not destroyed.
It’s not often that a band gets a second chance at success. Many artists have succumbed to trends or a general lack of creativity, with critics proclaiming their greatest works as flukes. Tourniquet, however, were able to produce that oft-sought career hallmark, the comeback album. Microscopic View of a Telescopic Realm reinvigorated the band, reminding listeners of their topnotch musicianship and bizarre approach to songwriting. For the most part, Where Moth and Rust Destroy follows that record adequately. The band’s usual mix of classical music and thrash metal has led to some truly creative music, and that trend continues here. With a catchy and uptempo opening track and guest contributions by Marty Friedman and Trouble’s Bruce Franklin, the album shows immense promise.
Tourniquet’s style is self-described as “Beethoven meets Frankenstein”. Like Dr. Frankenstein, the band combine seemingly disparate elements into a monstrous new creation. Bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Ted Kirkpatrick is an obvious admirer of the classical masters, and shares their penchant for musical exploration. On “Drawn and Quartered”, a myriad of influences come together to form one of the album’s best compositions. The song winds its way through several movements as it tells the story of a Roman general who violently persecutes Christians. Classical motifs, melodic riffs, and breakneck thrash combine to produce a progressive masterpiece. Amid this maelstrom of a track, the band’s experimentalism manifests in a calming dulcimer section. Other highlights include the groovy, sound effect laden “Architeuthis”, and the album’s preeminent epic, “Healing Waters of the Tigris”, which features a stylish, genre-hopping guitar solo. At their best, Tourniquet remain inventive and engaging.
While several phenomenal moments populate Where Moth and Rust Destroy, the songwriting is inconsistent. The album is often bogged down by uninteresting riffs or poorly executed ideas, and its generally lethargic pace doesn’t help matters. Besides a few exceptions, the songs lack the energy and dynamism that characterize the band’s best works. And while the instrumentation is excellent as always, Luke Easter’s vocal performance remains underwhelming. Yet the album’s greatest disappointment comes in its ill-fitting closer, “In Death We Rise”. An orthodox doom metal song could have made for a classic Tourniquet experiment, but its strict minimalism and hushed vocals render it only a curiosity. Instead of showcasing the band’s obvious talent and passion, the track ends the album on a sour note.
For the most part, Where Moth and Rust Destroy is an entertaining album that shows Tourniquet continuing to grow. Some of the band’s best work can be heard here, though it will require patience. Fans of the band will certainly find a lot to like, but newcomers may be put off by the filler and varying quality of the songs. Still, the album is worth a listen for its unique style and moments of genuine brilliance.