Don't be put off by the horribly Photoshopped album artwork or the America's most wanted-like self portrait on the cover of Devastation. No, Tracy Towns's latest is quite the opposite.
Mr. Towns may be a low budget independent artist struggling to get his music out, but he's actually a talented guitarist with some better than average song composition skills. Sure, with his gym-crafted bouncer physique, Towns looks like he should be kicking the asses of Illinois Central College students at the local pub rather than putting down heavy metal guitar licks. But the whole cut bruiser body thing may account for his heavy riffs and forceful musical approach. Devastation lives up to it's name rumbling along like a tank firing off it's heavy metal payload.
Devastation, despite its appearance, is better produced than expected. Though it hardly has the temper of a professional mix, the sound is crisp and clear with, generally, equal weight given to all the instruments. Of course, the emphasis is upon Towns's fret work which is good and diverse throughout; he can shred like expected but it's not extravagant or all wiggly arpeggios. Towns's style is more blue collar and earthy: rip it up and and pound it out as he does on Disillusioned and You Rock My World.
With his wife helping with the lyrics, Towns cover vocals and all guitars including bass which was his first instrument. This is quite evident as most songs have efficient and well developed bass lines. Conversely, Towns's vocal performance is lacking as he shows little variation or range on any song, and sounds like he's straining to sound 'metal.'
For basic song composition expect Towns's influences, including Megadeth, Pantera, Black Sabbath and others, to shine through. Many songs, like Power Corrupts, drift towards the Sabbath end being heavy, slow, and nearing a doomish side. Problematically, even with the variation from his guitar solos and song arrangements, much of Devastation sounds enigmatically similar. It could be his predictable vocals or the ominous and monotonous distortion throughout. Maybe its that some songs are simply too long and tedious (Rage or Propaganda and Lies, for example). Or maybe it's simply that the album is too long with 16 songs and therefore inherently tedious to begin with. Towns would have done well to knock off 5 or 6 and save them for another project.
Then again it may be too much Tracy Towns which makes Devastation an interesting yet difficult listen. By his own admission, Towns is solo because he couldn't find good musicians in his area to form a band and display his music (I suppose). Even if he is the tortured and misunderstood artist who, like a troubled child, does not play well with others, Towns should seriously enlist the help of others on his next project. That second point of view if even from a second musician or outside producer, could possibly diminish the predictability and ramp of the polish and professionalism of his music. Towns has talent and determination, it just needs more focus.
Otherwise, Tracy Town's third independent effort Devastation is an ambitious, sometimes exciting and sometimes lackluster, heavy metal project which displays his significant guitar skills and song development. Yet, though Towns is a good guitarist and composer, he needs some outside guidance on his next effort to take the knobs to eleven and his music to the next level. Hopefully, he's not so self-dependent or self-centered upon himself and his music to do so.
Tracy Town's third independent effort Devastation is an ambitious, sometimes exciting and sometimes lackluster, heavy metal project which displays his significant guitar skills and song development. Yet, though Towns is a good guitarist and composer, he needs some outside guidance on his next effort to take the knobs to eleven and his music to the next level.
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