Released: 2002, The Miskatonic Foundation
Reviewer: Ice Maiden
Do you like Iron Maiden? If you don’t, you have no business calling yourself a metalhead. If you do, you should buy Twisted Tower Dire’s new full-length second album, “Isle of Hydra.” I guess I could stop the review right there because it really is that simple, but I’ll continue just because it’s what I’m supposed to do.
Formed in 1995, Twisted Tower Dire is an epic classic metal band that hails from Northern Virginia. Their first album, “The Curse of Twisted Tower,” sounded like a mildly psychedelic and Sabbathy Iron Maiden, and suffered from its very raw, poor production. “Isle of Hydra” is extremely well produced, which lets the true metal nature of this rising-star band clearly shine through for the first time.
The album starts with an absolutely classic instrumental anthem, with rat-tat-tat drums that call metalhead warriors to battle: “Battle Cry.” I could listen to an entire album of that intro, but, woefully, it ends after mere moments. No matter, the next song, the title track, with its soaring lead vocals and warrior-metal background vocals keeps me satisfied. Other classics are “Ride the Night” with its sweetly-picked and melancholy intro that picks up defiance, a twin-guitar assault and some nice ‘80s-style harmonies mid-song, and the “Sign of the Storm,” with its very Manowar-esque chants. Lyrically, the album melds myth, fantasy, blood, and dragons, but has such a fundamentally bold sound that even the most “evil” and bitter underground black metal fan could never give them that oh-so-intelligent “accusation” of sounding “gay.”
My only criticism of the album is that although he sounds better than at least 80% of the metal vocalists out there, Tony Taylor needs to slightly refine his voice and range before he can be worthy of the incredible backing the band provides. Still, his voice grows on you. At first I also thought the songs sounded sort of similar to each other, but after listening to the albums a few times I realized that I just wasn’t listening carefully the first few times.
The band released a limited edition, double vinyl of “Isle of Hydra,” which includes a re-recorded version of “Beyond the Gate,” from the band’s 1997 demo, and a cover of Mercyful Fate’s “A Dangerous Meeting.” The double-gate album cover has the same beautiful artwork by Martin Hanford as the cd, and a nice photo collage of band pictures. This is a must for any fan of true metal, Twister Tower Dire, vinyl, or power metal artwork with warriors in full armor and flaming dragons. Again, if you don’t fit into at least one of those categories, you shouldn’t be calling yourself a metalhead.
Twisted Tower Dire is one of those bands that are keeping the American banner for true metal swaying high. Watch out for these guys—they are the future of metal.
Contact: Twisted Tower Dire, PO Box 223508, Chantilly, VA 20153-3508, USA. Email: email@example.com