TURRIS EBURNEA – Turris Eburnea (2021)REVIEW

As we encounter an increasing number of works either penned via necessary escapism during COVID-19 quarantine or, written in direct response to the overwhelmingly bleak reality of death on a massive scale, we must acknowledge the trauma of these events upon the individual and the capability of mass emotional affect to alter the eyes and ears we set upon art and artists. The emergence of dire realism and forceful caste during the fourteenth century in response to the gutting served by the bubonic plague is perhaps our best documented sea change of this sort; The wealthy built taller walls, deeper moats, and their artisan commissions became increasingly disturbed by the promise of Hell, damnation and the frailty of life. The twenty first century lacks this manner of distinct spiritual/economic groupings and as a result more fellowes will collapse without any real sense of communally experienced hardship. This focuses considerable pressure upon the artist, likening the shuttering of their modern status as bard and spectacular surrealist to the punishing goal of solitary confinement; The lack of governmentally sanctioned necessity in the artist is damnation enough for most. A concern for the ‘self’ persists first and perhaps concern for others secondarily as a symptom of dwelling upon existential necessity within imbalanced socio-economic structures. Though I’d forecast the necessity of treating mental health as increasingly obviate among post-millennial generations, the promise of communal gatherings will help pull this staggered phenomenon away from the flames of callous solipsism in most. With open arms, the first several irregular waves of artesian solitude should be received as catharsis, ‘self’ expression twisted unto a form of communal existential solidarity. This need does not escape the thought-weighted introvert, from which works such as this debut from New York/Milan based artist Turris Eburnea spill after some gestation. A self-titled death metal EP expressing a personal dissociation and view of earthly desolation from a surrealistic point of view — A blurring yet progressive hand upon a reality which is yet tied to an inherent desire for connection with others.

Formed into practical entity by Gabriele Gramaglia (The Clearing Path, Summit) and bassist Nicholas McMaster (Krallice, Geryon) during the space afforded somewhere beyond the release of Cosmic Putrefaction‘s ‘The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers’ it’d make sense to see the anxietous severing of the artist in the crunching corridors of technical death metal and virtuosic atmospheric dirges of ‘Turris Eburnea’. This may not be as literal as it seems, though, as each of these two fellowes involved aren’t strangers to progressive extreme metal and most of the compositional voice of the effort speaks more to a freely expressive examination of surrealistic death metal traits rather than a forceful emotional statement; If there is an emotional core therein, it is chaotic yet coldly distant and certainly anxietous. This is a good place to begin when crafting experimental technical/progressive death metal that relies upon percussive riffing and dissonant splashes of meandering riffs, as if peak Anata had been built around the riffing on ‘From Wisdom to Hate’, a touch of ‘Unholy Cult’-esque contempt and with a similarly clean but perhaps fretless bass guitar presence. Occasionally dissonant within each extended core phrase but always generating some readable statement from the skronking wriggle of the guitars. There are more modern equivalencies for this style of music but the whole sub-species of twisted “dissonant” prog-death forms still owes most everything to these records. In this sense Turris Eburnea sounds almost exactly as you’d expect a collaboration between members of Cosmic Putrefaction and Krallice to sound. Angular, complex, and always somewhat brutal between vocals and (programmed?) drums.

Classical guitars, keyboards, and some interesting harmonization maintain interest in ‘Turris Eburnea’ as one complete 21 minute experience that works best in its naturally linear form. If there were a preferred piece to pull from the experience the choice would be biased towards my love of bass guitar virtuoso, which leads me straight to the wealth of the second single, “Malachite Mountains”. McMaster‘s performances are admittedly a major draw for my own taste yet they do occasionally feel buried beyond this particular song. That said, I’ve long been convinced of Gramaglia‘s talent for composition and here we see the bells and whistles flying in terms of dynamic shifts on the fly, some creating their own repeatable hooks within larger pieces and others serving a larger progression. Where I feel like the greater wallop of the riffing lacks the atmospheric qualities of the album excel, so there is some give and take within the throes of the listening experience. In simple and perhaps reductive terms, the flowing-free violence of a band like StarGazer and the brutal mental warp of ‘modern’ Gorguts influenced riffcraft find Turris Eburnea right up my alley but certainly with some room to grow. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (76/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Turris Eburnea
LABEL(S):Everlasting Spew Records
RELEASE DATE:March 15th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Progressive Death Metal,
Experimental Death Metal

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