Twisted Tower Dire - Netherworlds
Remedy Records
9 songs (45'58)
Release year: 2007
Twisted Tower Dire, Remedy
Reviewed by Marty
Twisted Tower Dire is back after an almost 3 year hiatus in which the band decided to take time off in order for lead singer Tony Taylor to sort out some personal problems. After this new album was recorded and in the best interest of the band's future, the very difficult decision was made to carry on without him and Viper vocalist Johnny Aune has since been recruited to take over the lead vocal spot. Twisted Tower Dire as well as bands like Wolf are both flying the flag of 80's metal very proudly with their classic NWOBHM sound largely influenced by bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Motorhead as well as other lesser known pioneers such as Manilla Road and Diamond Head. Their last release, Crest Of The Martyrs was a fine piece of work but saw the band opting for a more traditional power metal sound over previous work; probably due to the fact that Piet Sielck (Iron Savior) produced it. With their latest Netherworlds, the boys from Virginia U.S.A. have made the decision to go back to the retro 80's sound of The Isle Of Hydra and the result is an album that not only has 80's influences but with the production style and quality, it's hard to believe that something that sounds like this is being released in 2007 and not the period between 1980 - 82.

I was initially a bit disappointed with this album. I only got through the first half of the album on several occasions before losing interest. Finally forcing myself to try to get into this album, it does gradually build in overall quality with the best material found midway and nearer the end. After listening to this quite a few times in the last week, the real problem with this album lies with the vocals; an aspect that was never an issue before with the band's previous albums. Tony does have a strong voice and he does a great job on many of the tracks but on a couple of occasions, especially with the song Dire Wolf, his off-key whining makes me cringe and skip to the next track. Maiden style galloping riffs and guitar harmonies grace many tracks with definite nods to bands like Saxon and Hammerfall for the chorus sections. The first song Starshine is decent but it really isn't until you get to the fourth track The Killing Kind and the title track Netherworlds that the quality of previous albums finally appears. Things finally come together for Casualty Of Cruel Times and Tales Of Submission. Casualty Of Cruel Times sees a little more melody and variety with it's mix of chugging and mid tempo riffs and Tony's vocals fit the track perfectly. Tales Of Submission features a Maiden style but with a little more melody, some very tasteful guitar harmonies and a "get stuck in your head chorus" in what is one of the more unique tracks on the album. No-one Left To Blame is Twisted Tower Dire's attempt at some 80's "love metal" (i.e. Dokken, Winger, Scorpions etc.) complete with very cheesy lyrics and doesn't fit very well within the context of the style of metal on the album. The album finishes with Firebird, a spirited and galloping track that has an epic Saxon feel and some classic metal riffing.

I'm a big fan of this band and of this type of metal. I was about 19 when the NWOBHM hit the North American shores in 1980 and I loved every second of it. Twisted Tower Dire offers a retro look back in celebration of that ever so important era in the evolution of heavy metal music. The production on Netherworlds complete with it's hockey arena echo on the vocals sounds very live and I think many of these tracks would come across great in a live setting. It's also very clear that a Piet Sielck production job like on the Crest Of The Martyrs results in a much different sounding Tony Taylor. Initially, myself (and many others in fact) believed that it was the new vocalist who is sinnging on this album when in fact it isn't. Overall, there still is lots to like about this new album except for a few filler tracks and a couple of annoying vocal performances. Besides a step back in sound, it's also quite a bit of a step back in quality over previous albums. It almost sounds like a new band rather than one that has been around almost 10 years now with several albums to their credit. I do love the rough and raw sound but the potential is definitely there for this to be a much better album than it turned out to be. With a new vocalist onboard, it may take another album for them to get back on track. A slight misstep here with Netherworlds but fans of the band will still probably like it. For those who are not all that familiar with them, Crest Of The Martyrs or The Isle Of Hydra would be a better introduction to the band.

Killing Songs :
Casualty Of Cruel Times, Tales Of Submission and Firebird
Marty quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Twisted Tower Dire that we have reviewed:
Twisted Tower Dire - Make It Dark reviewed by Alex and quoted 79 / 100
Twisted Tower Dire - Crest Of The Martyrs reviewed by Marty and quoted 85 / 100
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