Written by: Volt Thrower
Drainbow! No, it's not a psychedelic effect of household cleaning supplies, it’s the eclectic, ambitious project of solo act extraordinaire Nick Sarcophagus, who brings us his debut long player The Tower of Flints. A dark twisting journey of extremities, whether it be the bounds of genre, or the limits of nature's capacity to sustain, viewed through the lens of her most vulnerable inhabitants. “To the victor the spoils," which just so happens to be whoever lays ears on this record.
I love it when an album's cover art perfectly encapsulates the sound found within, and this is a great example. A tip of the cap to Sarah Allen Reed for another work of art, really summing up the beautiful yet harsh reality of the natural world surrounding us. From its most tranquil moments of animal calls and keys, to its most frenetic of wails and galloping progressions, the story is to be found within the walls of said art.
Right from the get-go in lead single and tone setter "Funeral for an Imaginary Rabbit," its quintessential Drainbow world immersion. Maniacal cackling and haunting synth immediately set the spine chilling scene. I really hesitate to use the word “epic” in any review, but there is just such a massive feel in the buildup of drums and strings into the soaring chorus which pays off absolutely stunningly. The storytelling is captivating and the transition to more symphonic elements build on the grandeur in the following song ‘Lair of the Night Gaunt’. A masterfully composed track which provides ample room for the handsome man to flex his guitar skills and vocal range into the stratosphere.
The darker side of Mr. Sarcophagus gets to come out and play too on "The Inevitable Tautology of Defeat." Melodic moments of guitar and synth are book-ended by ripping black metal passages, once again showing off terrific guitar skills and harsh barking vocals which are my favorite on the whole record. Mirroring last year's Crystal Myth EP with an instrumental bridge is a nice touch, even better though is the fact that "Fourth Rider" isn’t just a throwaway track for a moment to breathe. It feels like a crucial story builder with its disorienting transition into the stunning titular track "The Death Owl in the Tower of Flints." This is the highlight of the record for me and a genuine masterpiece, combining all the strengths of Drainbow into one track. The soft opening of bird calls, organic noise and spoken word eulogy transition into bass tone and guitar layers so warm it threatens to set fire to the very landscape it builds. The owl hoots confirm the threat is real, as the earth is left scorched by the back half of the track and scathing shouts of the all powerful tower.
One of the only things I'm not crazy about is the decision to have bonus track "Worm Invasion," from 2018’s Fog the Mirror Demo, being essentially the closing song. It’s an absolute ripper of a track, with a little humor splashed in for the shithole of 2020 with the vocal line “wash your hands motherfucker." I understand the desire to promote a good tune from an under-heard release, but it may have worked better as a stand alone single. In my opinion, the album is wrapped up beautifully in the conclusion in yet another stunner in "Callipygian Hunger." Another track testing my restraint in the use of “epic” descriptors.
I always enjoy when an album forces me to break out the dictionary, and even more so this time around when you figure out the penultimate track is actually about the search for shapely buttocks satiation. Melodic vocals and keys once again ease the listener in, before hitting the gas on one of my favorite NWoTHM charges of the year. The riffs, bass line and solos breaking into some celtic rock just ensures you don't stop banging your head the whole time. More masterful bass work and vocal delivery bring the affair to a stunning end.
Following up the righteous Crystal Myth EP in such a short time is impressive, to do so with such a clear step forward in terms of sonic presence and song composition is extraordinary. What a terrific album that challenged me both as a listener and as a writer. The production is warm, strings and vocals are both exceptional, and you can tell there was so much care put into the drums and organic sounds being built. The Tower of Flints should be Drainbow's musical coming out party, one which sees him leave his unique mark as a force to be reckoned with in the land of metal makers. Make sure to check it out when the album is released August 7th.
Drainbow - The Tower of Flints will be independently released August 7th
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!