Review Summary: For every gem unfairly forgotten, there are many more that deserve their fate, proving too derivative to be worth the cost of exhumation.
In my never ending quest into the bowels of forgotten metal lore, the almighty YouTube recommendation algorithm threw this here little-known British thrash band onto my chopping block. All the signs were right, from the name to the cover art, the overall impression people online seem to have of it… except for the music itself.
So what’s wrong with it? As bluntly and as succinctly as possible: the music on offer is forgettable, taking formulaic groovy thrash and adding spurts of death metal energy here and there. Released in 1990, Tower of Spite feels like little more than an off brand, discount Devastation or perhaps Demolition Hammer.
It’s quite strange seeing people call this a death metal record. I suppose the vocals sound a bit like a higher pitched Martin van Drunen and, mercifully, the band does treat us to the odd blast beat driven passage. This helps break up the monotony of by-the-numbers mid-paced thrash and mind-numbing groove, but it all lacks the punch and ferocity of a Pestilence or Benediction release. Even at their slowest, Cerebral Fix only manage to sound like anemic Exhorder B-sides, bringing none of the crushing weight of bands like Convulse, Asphyx or even Fleshcrawl. The music is not fast enough to be exciting, nor heavy enough to pummel you into submission, and there’s not enough variety in the composition to make up for this either.
The drums mostly stick to two speeds. It’s either barebones groove beats or plodding mid-tempo double bass trying its best to prop up painfully generic thrash guitar riffs. Every now and then you get a more frantic section to jolt you awake, but even those fail to excite beyond the much needed tempo change. The guitars seem to be playing the same indistinct riff with no real bite to it for most of the record, although they do show us some solid solos here and there, most notably on Quest for Midian with its minute-long melodic section. The bass only manages to distinguish itself on the track Forgotten Genocide, playing some interesting lines and even being allowed to shine during a couple of breaks. Unfortunately, that’s perhaps the album’s only real standout.
As much as I love to champion the forgotten, the obscure, the underrated, this record just doesn’t cut it. It feels like you’re listening to the same song for 40 odd minutes, sans the aforementioned Forgotten Genocide which is ironically one of the shortest. Well, no, in truth it feels like you’re listening to the same song for way longer than the album’s real duration. Given the rather bland songwriting and lack of diversity, I can only really imagine the most ardent of obscurity-hunters deriving any real enjoyment from this one.