NEW KEEPERS OF THE WATER TOWERS are a Swedish ‘cosmic rock’ band as they’ve labeled themselves. It’s something that might appeal to fans of progressive rock and/or/with psychedelic/doom sounds. Their upcoming release, The Infernal Machine is out April 1 on Listenable Records. I don’t think the band came into their best artistic realization until the 2013 album, The Cosmic Child, and Infernal Machine pushes further into that murky, post-rock delirium. The songs move even slower, and further eschew the line between instrumental performance and final product with heavy synthesizer work, over long periods of only subtle variation of intonation and effect.
In the name, cover art, album title, and track titles such as “Tracks Over Carcosa,” “Tachyon Deep,” and “Misantropin Kallar,” there is reference to Cthulu mythos literature. While I don’t think they capture the “sickening dread and unspecified horror,” core of the written works, I don’t hold it against them. Even if it’s not a full embrace of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror, it still certainly feels cosmic and unnerving, which is a great balance from the source material to something I’d actually want to listen to. It achieves this with a meeting point between 1970’s vintage space rock/prog and a persistent slowness that’s not far from drone at times. Song structures are more in line with post-rock, which is to say there isn’t really a consistent structure.
There’s a lot of consideration given to volume throughout. If we were to think back to the progressive rock bromance Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt tapped into in the last 5 years. This is more explicitly written to an audience that will appreciate that right away, rather than the aforementioned’s sometimes timid approaches at it (Not that I’m calling “Raider II” timid. Obviously not). NEW KEEPERS OF THE WATER TOWERS also maintain current prog trendiness with heavy use of mellotron sounds for ambiance. The guitars also exist, mostly to achieve ambiance rather than melody.
As much as I respect the artistic evolution, and applaud the band for a committed and thorough delivery on the premise, I don’t find myself in that same state of rapturous enjoyment that The Cosmic Child brought me. Rather than strike a balance between the tonality and melody, Infernal Machine goes long periods eschewing melody almost entirely. Even in crescendo, the music is still often just a vehicle to achieve a certain sound or emotion. I’m a longtime advocate for bands pushing further in this direction, but at times Infernal Machine drifts a bit too far into those murky waters for my tastes.
STANDOUT TRACK: “Tachyon Deep”