Old Tower - The Rise of the Specter
Self Release
Dark Ambient / Dungeon-Synth
2 songs (29' 47")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Andy

I'd honestly never heard of the genre of "dungeon synth" before, but it's a thing. A form of dark ambient influenced by the instrumental intro tracks of atmospheric black metal bands like Burzum and Summoning, it's a non-metal genre that was spawned by black metal and remains close to it in mood. Old Tower's latest full-length, The Rise of the Specter, claims direct ancestry to the early examples of the genre; slow-moving and melodic, it isn't quite as repetitive as many of its brethren, though it still has some slow parts.

Electronic chorus-voices abound on the album, which consists of two fifteen-minute tracks. The atmosphere is one of hushed silence, and the metal listener's ear will yearn in vain for extreme-metal riffing, even heavily processed, to shatter the calm and start heads banging. But there is a cold, still discipline in Old Tower's keyboard composition that is far from being unpleasant, and medieval horns and pipes combine with the sparingly-used bass drum on the second track to give the impression of an ancient ceremony conducted at dusk in some forgotten castle, deep in a forest. Organ tones is also used -- again, sparingly -- to add to the feeling of grand desolation.

The hooded figure on the album cover belies the sound somewhat. The contents are dark, but the tone of the album is more foreboding than menacing. The Rise of the Specter's main draw isn't any clear strength of the songs, but the pervading gloom of the sound that unconsciously wraps the listener without any distinct moment that one can point to. The Rise of the Specter probably won't end up in repeat playlists for the workday, but in keeping with its theme, it's a nice listen late at night.

Bandcamp: https://oldtower.bandcamp.com/album/the-rise-of-the-specter.

Killing Songs :
Andy quoted 71 / 100
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