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Album Reviews : Anubis – A Tower Of Silence

By on September 15, 2012

Aussie prog rock is so good at the moment. You can take the more commonly acknowledged Karnivool or Dead letter Circus or dig a little deeper and find say Arcane or Breaking Orbit, but wherever you look you will find some awesome, progressive music. If epic, intelligent prog rock takes your fancy then it is truly difficult to ignore Anubis. The band turned many a head with their debut 230503 and their latest effort A Tower of Silence is bound to continue that trend. At first blush the band’s Pink Floyd influence shines through rather strong, though you will also hear strong hints of Porcupine Tree, Alan Parsons, and Jethro Tull. Prog enough for you?

The album’s opener “The Passing Bell” is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is more than 17 minutes long. After taking a moment to build a nice synth-laden backdrop the song, and album, launches with a rocking riff complete with super-groovy bass line in some bizarre time signature that pushes the song forward from there. If it weren’t for the slightly quirky rhythmic style here, the song would seem unexpectedly ‘normal’ for such a band as it does the usual verse-chorus shuffle. Unfortunately Robert James Moulding’s  vocal performance on the album starts on one of its weaker points, starting out somewhat similar to Steve Wilson (whose voice, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, is certainly not one of Porcupine Tree’s stronger points) though they thankfully improve from that point. However where a normal song might exhaust its normal structure and call it a day, “The Passing Bell” takes a few detours. After travelling through more tap-dancing bass lines and the occasional lead guitar break the whole song drops off into eerie atmosphere of synths and keys before moving forward in a darker, more melodic framework where Moulding’s vocals really shine. The epic number finally closes with a magnificent, jaw-dropping guitar solo, easily one to stand up there with David Gilmour’s (Pink Floyd) finest.

This one song warrants such an in-depth review because it acts as something of a microcosm for the rest of the album.  Every song on A Tower of Silence carries some balance of light and dark but it seems that the darker side of things suits the band more. Moulding’s voice seems to carry that much more power, the keys and synths create thicker atmospheres and the screaming lead guitar cuts through the mix like a hot knife.  In contrast, the lighter material seems to lack a certain depth of feeling and consequently does not really resonate as well; there really can be a difference between singing and just using your voice. This is not to say that the music is not interesting, because it certainly is- it is not hard to appreciate the skill that goes into creating such complex structures and compositions, from the weird rhythmic patterns to the twisting interplay between all the different instruments to the layering of the multi-vocal passages. Despite being consciously ‘interesting’ however there is a notable difference in the varying degrees of ‘feel’ that album pushes out. At times it is deep and intense, at others it is just kind of ‘playing’.

If one element of the album deserves particular praise it is the solo work all throughout the piece- both guitar and saxophone. Every single time Douglas Skene and/or Dean Bennison bust out a guitar solo the result is simply stunning and the sax solo to close out “The Holy Innocent” (which is somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them”) is one of the overall highlights of the album (as is the song itself). The style is somewhat hard to pin down, which is probably a good thing as it emphasises the individual fashion of the artist, though the influence of David Gilmour comes through strongest (at least to this reviewer)…and honestly that’s about the highest praise a guitarist should ask for!

At the end of the day, A Tower of Silence does come across as a very strong release. The big moments of the album really do outshine the low points as far as overall impressions are concerned. If you enjoyed Anubis’s previous album you will definitely want to check this out and if you are a fan of epic prog rock in general this would be well worth your time investigating .7/10


Band: Anubis
Album: A Tower of Silence
Year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Bird’s Robe Records
Origin: Sydney, Australia
http://www.anubismusic.com/anubis/home.html

Track list:
1. The Passing Bell
2. Archway of Tears
3. This Final Resting Place
4. A Tower of Silence
5. Weeping Willow
6. And I Wait for my World to End
7. The Holy Innocent
8. All That Is…

About

Sam Maher is Metal Obsession's resident prog reviewer. He only likes songs that are at least 15 minutes long, contain 4 guitar solos and can only be described with a genre that is at least six words long. He also plays guitar for Sydney-based groovy melodic progressive technical death metal band Apparitions of Null.