Tower - Tower

Tower cover
The End Records
Question: What do you get when you take the raucously liberating formula of classic 70s rock such as Aerosmith, Free, Girlschool, Heart and Sweet then place at the helm an outgoing, hip-shaking and spirited dame who sounds like a fiery cross between Ann Wilson, Pat Benatar and Doro Pesch? New York City’s Tower, that’s what!
Formed in 2015 and comprised of front woman Sarabeth Linden, dual guitarists James Danzo and Zak Penley and backed by Philippe Arman and Justin Sherrell on bass and drums, Tower unleashed its half hour, “eight track” self-titled party soundtrack under the Brooklyn based The End Records (purveyor of stringier works such as Anvil, Cradle of Filth and Witchery) in October of 2016, which for all intents and purposes plays out like a festive heavy rock album rather than outright heavy metal such as Huntress, Lady Beast, The Lizzies or Satan’s Hallow for instance.
The titular track takes a little while to get underway, what with its hundred seconds of feedback wankery but once fully revved thanks to the axe men’s crisply shimmering guitar tones and Linden’s passionately drawn-out inflections manages to assiduously launch the proceedings with the same incandescent sputter of a ‘76 Barracuda. The production is very clear and allows each band member to duly shine, be it the clanging, gut punch heavy bass lines, mellifluous guitar harmonies (such as the one opening up the intensely vintage sounding “I’ve Never Been More Alive”), swift take away solos (the one thrown in at the end of “Raceway Rock” is pretty poignant) or energetic and engaging drum fills and variations. In fact, obvious title aside, “Party (Ready to Roll)” reveals its anthem-ic overtones right off the bat with Sherrell’s eager: “Tryin’ to be play a cow-bell over here!”. Suffice to say, he fully delivers whilst Linden takes the opportunity to let it all hang loose on the chorus; Danzo and Penley, for their part, bring to mind The White Stripes’s “Jack Black” with their slightly exotic but constantly rambunctious and subtly mercurial riff patterns.
A few tracks in particular readily push this affair out of the 70s and into the 80s – both era and rating wise – as they definitely lean towards the metal side of the hard music spectrum. These would be “Flames”, with its forward thrusting palm muted opening riff and slick, dazzling gate crushing leads all-around (on which Linden happens to be a dead-ringer for Night Viper’s Sofie Lee-Johanssen – always a plus in my book), as well as the top highlight by a long shot, the thumping, cool as all-get out “Mountains” thanks to its reverb-tinged, hard-driving and trilling main riff compounded by Linden’s super expressive and impactful, soul-edifying caws. In other words, I consider this gem a guilty pleasure I allow myself to skip forward to like an unruly tot chucking his plate of vegetables in Ma’s face while bawling for dessert. Actually, the second half of Tower also grandly picks up the slack with the Fleetwood Mac sounding “Hold on to Me” with its muffled chord shuffles, natural harmonics and no-nonsense, stoic rhythm section. Closer, “Elegy” is no slouch either as it kicks off with a helluva bang!, romping and stomping the listener (and his or her chair) flat while resoundingly throttling the stage at 01:53 with a killer doubly layered funnelling guitar riff and furious barn burner of a solo before our esteemed pooh-bah returns with her powerfully delivered “I’m not ready to go!” asseverations.
Oddly enough, the version sent to me also includes a very apropos cover of Girlschool’s “Race with the Devil”, which isn’t included on either the CD or 12" vinyl edition. In any case, it fits Tower like a velvet glove.
Granted, Tower is light, fun and non-committal fare which readily brings to mind coming-of-age albeit debauched high school flicks such as Dazed and Confused or The Stoned Age, while also making for ideal summer driving music (swatting mail boxes with a baseball bat is optional). The thing is, the band succeeds at doing what it set out to do, namely instil an easy-going and uplifting devil-may-care atmosphere surely befitting its origins. That said, it’ll likely strike a nostalgic chord with fans of timeless female fronted worthies such as the aforementioned Girlschool, Heart, Phantom Blue and Rock Goddess. To conclude, while my rating reflects the band’s “metal-ness” rest assured its debut still makes for good times!