(Allen Griffin prepared this review of the new album by Sweden’s New Keepers of the Water Towers.)
Swedish quintet New Keepers of the Water Towers are set to unleash their latest opus Infernal Machines on April 1st. Occupying a territory which could vaguely be described as Psychedelic/Progressive Rock, the group’s sound is ultimately so much more and should not be passed over by Metal fans who don’t normally check out the aforementioned sub-genres.
Many reviews, especially since their last album The Calydonian Hunt (2011), go to great lengths to talk about New Keepers of the Water Towers’ Pink Floyd influence. And while that element of their sound is certainly present, it doesn’t truly acknowledge the group’s epic gestures of Doom. Without utilizing traditional Metal guitar tones, they nevertheless achieve moments of crushing enormity.
Album opener “The Forever War”, a nod to Joe Haldeman’s sci-fi classic novel with the same name, opens with some strange noise bits before diving headlong into an immense dirge. The next ten minutes of the song unfold like the slow-motion collapse of civilization.
As the album progresses, Infernal Machines continues to pump out epic soundscapes. Songs such as “Tracks Over Carcosa” and “Misantropin Kallar” mine Krautrock territory, particularly the motorik rhythms of Neu! and Can, plus the electronic strangeness of Tangerine Dream. “Escape Aleph Minor” juxtaposes a driving tempo against epic sparseness heading straight into Space Rock territory.
The album ends with the one-two punch of “Jorden Wave” and “This Infernal Machine”. “Jorden Wave” once again hints at vast and spacious Doom territory without ever utilizing much distortion. At over eight minutes, “This Infernal Machine” brings the album to a powerful close. Almost an updating of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”, this track builds and builds to an epic crescendo, but if Floyd “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, New Keepers of the Water Towers has placed their trajectory straight for a black hole, from which no light can escape. Perhaps this is the appropriate response to this world in these modern times.
It is nearly impossible to deny New Keepers of the Water Towers’ Psychedelic and Progressive influences, but Infernal Machines is so much more than one more record to squeeze into the vast catalog of a sub-genre. Instead, they stand with singular vision and remind one of the heights which bands like Ulver and Neurosis have aspired to reach.
Metal fans of all stripes will be missing out if they pass on this record due to categorical blinders. The “heaviness” of this album isn’t achieved through waves of distortion and blast beats, but instead through a density of concept and execution, an oppressive spiritual weight as crushing as anything out there.
Infernal Machines will be released on April 1 by Listenable Records (order HERE). At one time the entire album could be heard on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, but those streams have now been terminated so that you must now go to Revolver (HERE) to listen.