TDW – Fountains
Layered Reality Productions
Release Date: 26.11.2021
Review by Beth Jones
I first happened across Symphonic Progressive Metal project, TDW (aka Dutch multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, production wizard, and all-round nice guy) back in December last year, when I reviewed his album “The Day the Clock Stopped”. Irritatingly, it was probably my favourite album of the year – I say irritatingly because it never made it to my ‘Top 10 albums of 2020’ review, as I’d already written the damn thing when it came out! I was going to bang it on this year’s list and call it a technicality as it had varying release dates… But now I don’t have to, because Tom is back, with a fresh new album, and it’s in time for me to get it in with this year’s selection of album brilliance!
“Fountains” is a departure from the heavy and cacophonous sound of “The Day The Clock Stopped”, but then that was a concept album about an incredibly mental and physically testing time in Tom’s life. A lot of the tracks on this album were inspired by fans’ suggestions, so it delivers an eclectic mix of ideas and themes, all in one place. Tom described it as follows: “This album has a few themes that form its framework. We have been through the wringer as creators & mankind in general, so I made songs about staying hopeful even when life beats you down, understanding the human value of real art over just blindly staring at sales numbers and marketing and more.”
Instantly you can hear an expansive exploration of different instrumentation and samples, alongside the melding of classical orchestration with heavy sounds, and clean vocals with guttural screams, on the opening title track. This really tickles my fancy, and is a brilliant way to start the album; it’s pacey and frantic, and instantly makes your ears prick up.
The album continues in this style, with heavy, crunching guitars, pacey travelling percussion, and orchestral instruments, along with some superb vocal harmonies, provided by TDW’s very accomplished choir members.
There are some notable special guests on this album too, including Ramage Inc’s Brian Ramage, and a flute solo on track 5 from Cathina Porsius (I used to play flute, started when I was 4, should have carried it on, but my teenage brain wanted to play a sexier instrument, like guitar… Damn I should have stuck with flute, because I’m an appalling guitarist!)
There are some immense cross rhythms and syncopation going on in this album, and one lovely example of this is track 6, ‘Anthracite’. This starts out a little lighter than the tracks it follows, but still with an intense drum rhythm. It does bring back the growls halfway through, though so it’s not too much of a departure from the aggressive beauty of the rest of the album. It also contains one of many sumptuous guitar solos that appear throughout this work.
‘Graveyard Boogie’ is an interesting little track – it’s quite Devin Towsend-esque, and very theatrical, with some jaunty organ sounds, and synth ‘Bone Xylophone’ tracking the main hook of the song. It’s hellishly catchy – almost irritatingly so, but in a good way!
This is another superb album by TDW. I don’t think I connected with it emotionally as deeply as I did the last album, but musically, creatively, and in terms of production, I can’t fault it. TDW makes me excited for the future of music. That’s probably the highest praise I can give.
02. Inner Enemy
03. Hope Song I
04. Gratitude Song
05. Hunter’s Eyes
07. Another Choice, Another Universe
08. Graveyard Boogie
10. Hope Song II
Tom de Wit – Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Orchestrations
Rich Gray – Bass, Backing vocals (Annihilator/Aeon Zen)
Fabio Alessandrini – Drums (Annihilator)
Bryan Ramage – Guitar solo on #1 (Ramage Inc)
Linn Liv – Guest vocals on #1 (Cyanide Paradise, Pictura Poesis)
Eric Hazebroek – Guitar solo on #2 (Vetrar Draugurinn)
Ron Brouwer – Guest vocals on #2 (Sacrosanct)
Cathinca Porsius – Flute on #5
Lennert Kemper – Guitar solo on #5 (Dreamwalkers Inc, Elithium)
Lola Damblant Soler – Guitar solo on #6 (Soledad)
Vikram Shankar – Synth solo on #7 (Redemption, Silent Skies)
Michael Mills – Guitar solo on #8 (Toehider, Ayreon)
Morean – Guitar solo, flamenco guitar & palmas on #9 (Alkaloid)
Lucas De La Rosa – Guitar solo on #10 (Solo artist)
Laura ten Hoedt, Iris van ‘t Veer, Cailyn Erlandsson, Rania Bailey,Rikke Linssen, Linda van Vugt, Ron Brouwer, Rich Gray, Tom de Wit
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.