Plasmodium – Towers of Silence Review

Space. Space is so big. Like really big. At least three-thousand stars, and at least fifty-thousand miles across. That’s at least four-hundred people from my hometown per star per at least three and a half miles. Wow. And that’s not even getting into planets and black holes and asteroids and deathcore rejects. There are at least, what, fifty of those? Whew, space is amazing. The big bang theory definitely makes sense. Not the sitcom. No one likes that shit apparently. Except my wife and I. Sheldon’s so funny. “Bazinga.” Haha classic. My point is, much ado has been made about the vastness of space in the metal solar system, with acts like Artificial Brain, Obscura, and Blood Incantation wreaking gravitational havoc. Will Plasmodium sail among the stars? Or will it be confined to licking asteroid dust from my sweet vintage tie-dye Converse high tops?

Plasmodium is described by Metal Archives as “psychedelic black/death metal,” and that is definitely appropriate. Formed in 2016, the Melbourne, Australia, sextet features veteran blood, particularly drummer Matt “Skitz” Sanders of Damaged fame, and Aretstikapha of Mazikeen. Releasing Entheognosis in 2016 to underground interest, it introduced this highly atmospheric breed that doesn’t quite land in death metal or black metal, but somehow fills the dead air between. Featuring blackened vocals and drumming, sophomore effort Towers of Silence features some of the strangest soundscapes of 2021 thanks to its deranged string attack and cosmic ambiance. While it’s an interesting brownie to ingest on your acid trip to space, it’s ultimately compromised by its godawful mix, lack of direction, and awkward splicing of its assets.

Plasmodium is fucking weird. Imagine Suffering Hour covering Miles DavisBitches Brew with Fractal Generator‘s spazzy guitar work, Mesarthim‘s cosmic ambiance, and Menace Ruine‘s psychedelic noisemongering, with hints of Aluk Todolo and Portal for good measure. It’s truly a disconcerting and trippy listen, soaring best when allowing its hyper-atmospheric music to grow organically. “Pseudocidal” and “Vertexginous” are the best examples of this, as synths and ritualistic drumming take center stage, allowing the droning guitars, whack vocals,1 and blasting drums to be milestones in their respective nine- and twelve-minute dynamic. Eighteen-minute monster “Translucinophobia” is also noteworthy in its use of twistedly dissonant guitar work and bizarre vocals, sounding more like a mathcore album in its unpredictability. Guitar work is dissonant and disjointed, switching from glitchy melodies and spastic solos abruptly, while the synths offer atonal evocative soundscapes that conjure the maddening expanse of space.

In spite of the space odysseys being presented here, one might notice how decidedly listener-unfriendly Towers of Silence is. Plasmodium‘s guitar work never descends from dissonant screech mode, and drums and vocals dominate the mix anyway. As a result, crashing cymbals and wailing guitar is like a cheese-grater for the eardrums while the bottom end drones out any details you could otherwise appreciate. For instance, while “Pseudocidal” offers patient dynamics across its nine minutes, Skitz’ drum performance, however impressively complex, just keeps banging away with no respite while vocals drown out the cool bass tone. Atmospheric death metal-adjacent bands seem to have difficulty balancing ambiance with brutality, as bands like Sxuperion or early Ævangelist are doomed by awkward juxtapositions of dense riffs and cool synths. The bite of the riffs is diminished and the ambiance overcrowds the mix, and Towers of Silence suffers similarly. Furthermore, while Plasmodium offers some truly intriguing moments in its back half, it’s curious why “ParaMantra” and “Churning” are there to begin with: just three-and-a-half minutes of directionless blasting haphazardly spliced with weird atmosphere, atop its already awful mix.

In the end, Plasmodium has created a uniquely psychedelic black metal fusion that makes other psychedelic black metal bands look like posers,2 even if they gleefully slaughter listenability in the process. While bands like Oranssi Pazuzu and Esoctrilihum offer flourishes of strangeness, Towers of Silence is unrelenting. Their ambition is absolutely otherworldly, but its vocal and percussion approach stand completely at odds with its unique guitarwork and ambiance, which is a damn shame. Skitz can drum , his supporting cast can offer their stuff, but at the end of “Vertexginous” I’m just left with a raging headache. Maybe I’m old, but these guys need to chill out for fuck’s sake and tighten up their performances, because Towers of Silence might be better off silent. It aims for the stars but ultimately nosedives into, like, Nosebleed-from-Noise, Florida or whatever.


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: facebook.com/Undulator | plasmodiumdeath.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: April 30th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The glitchy shouts in “Vertexginous” are absolutely bonkers.
  2. “Successful” posers, whatever that means.
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