Title: The Tower of Flints
Release Date: 7 August 2020
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
Drainbow is not only the brainchild of Nicholas Sarcophagus, but it would appear that “The Tower of Flints” was not only written by him in its entirety, but performed and recorded too. And that was surely no mean feat, for as you will discover pretty quickly “The Tower of Flints” is quite a multi-headed beast.
From the opening carnivalesque, head-spinning whirlwind of “Funeral of an Imaginary Rabbit” I have a sense that we may be stepping into the kind of kaleidoscope metal universe inhabited by Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, where soaring melodies exist in a wild kind of harmony with thrash metal riffing, jazz interludes, lounge music and really whatever flights of fancy might occur.
And so pretty much it proves to be. “Lair of the Night Gaunt” starts out with an urgently, unsettled guitar arpeggio and before two minutes have passed the track has barrelled through proggish melodies and growling extreme metal, then stripping everything back for a shimmering, echoing guitar melody soon to be backed up with squelchy bass lines and flaring guitars. I’ve never delved very far into Rush but I get a sense that there might be some Geddy Lee influences here in both the vocal style (though not as high) and the bass explorations.
The next track “The Inevitable Tautology of Defeat” starts out with a really catchy drum part and there’s some very enjoyable rhythmic interplay on this track. Definitely some Mike Patton influences can be heard in the grand, slightly tongue in cheek operatic stylings, and the heavier parts again bring to mind Mr. Bungle at their most “metal”. The instrumental “Fourth Rider” meanwhile goes into even more classic prog-rock territory with some cool, heavy, but still quirky riffing.
“The Death Owl In The Tower of Flints” (these song titles!) is crammed full of more barmy prog melodies alongside heavy, melodic metal stylings. While “Callypigian Hunger” at 11min+ is the longest track on the album and keeps pumping out more grand, Patton-esque melodies, supported by all kinds of interweaving stylistic flourishes. Final track “Worm Invasion” (listed as a bonus track), does feel a bit tacked on after the epic journey of the previous track. It’s still entertaining though and one of the heavier tracks on the album. In fact it might be one of my favourites. I’m not generally so into prog, and I appreciate the more straight ahead, chugging metal feel of this one, still a little wacky, but not self-consciously so.
All together this might be a little too knowingly quirky and playful for my tastes, but certainly, there’s no opportunity given for boredom to set in as the album flows from one riff and melody to the next. Would I have guessed this was all being played by one person if I hadn’t read it? I’m pretty sure not. The bass is a prominent feature in the mix and the basslines work some great grooves, the guitar playing is just as good, with all the shifts handled with ease, and the keys and drums sound convincingly like the final components of a fully organic band.
I wanted something different to listen to for a review this week and I certainly got my wish. Great respect to this gentleman for putting together such an eclectic and well-played piece of avant-garde, prog-rock/ metal as this. Not necessarily totally to my tastes, but a happy listening experience nonetheless. 7/10 Tom Boatman
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