An album made by the fans, for the fans. That’s how you could describe this new TDW album in a simple way, but that wouldn’t tell the whole story, as the eighth TDW album entitled ‘Fountains’ has become something unexpected indeed.
Spurred on by an all too familiar worldwide pandemic and an urge to keep moving forward after releasing the well-received album ‘The Days The Clock Stopped’ in December of 2020, main songwriter Tom De Wit took the possibility to quickly write new material that would become this very record. Written, recorded and produced in a record tempo for Tom’s standards, but also fuelled by a very special ingredient… Song input from the fans who preordered the last album and helped to make it all possible!
Multiple songs on this new offering are based on suggestions given by TDW fans in 2020 when they preordered ‘The days…’. Tom told the fans that if they gave him a subject and basic idea, he would write a song based on those ideas and 6 songs on this album came to be based on these very concepts. Added to this were 4 songs written by Tom that all formed a loose theme tying everything together.
When asked about the theme of the album, 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. My life has been a constant, crusade against hollow art made for profit only.
The highest goal for me is to make something that invokes a real response. I think this represents that to the fullest. People often get sidetracked by the business side of things, but at the end of the day it’s our creative fountain that keeps us going. Yes, you have to take your career seriously, yes you have to think of these things, but for me the music and the creative adventure ALWAYS comes first.”
‘Fountains’ is something of a departure for Tom, while still most definitely a progressive metal record. It has a lighter touch and more left-field influences that give it a real upbeat and fresh feel but, as you will always find with musicians like Tom, the songwriting comes first and this album is chock full of what the youth call ‘bangers’!
From the powerful opening notes of title track Fountains the intent is obvious but every aggressive guitar line is wrapped in the talented songwriting skills of Tom De Wit who brings a subtlety not often seen on albums of this genre. The staccato electronics and fast paced speed metal infused rhythm of Inner Enemy contrasts perfectly with the subtlety of the much more dulcet tones of Hope Song I and its feel-good factor. The potency of Gratitude Song is tempered by the fine vocals and excellent chorus and I am a big fan of Hunter’s Eyes, one of Tom’s best compositions, the inclusion of the flute paying in tandem with the hard edged guitar as the song opens is just genius! This is progressive metal for the thinking man and I really get the feel that Tom and his fellow musicians had a blast recording this album.
The brooding Anthracite has an aura of latent power and barely hidden menace about it. A calm exterior that hides something much more primeval and is another highlight of this ever impressive release. We return to the progressive metal arena again with the driving intensity of Another Choice, Another Universe and it suddenly hits me that we have got over halfway through the album and there’s barely a hint of the growling vocal that this genre is so well known for and, for this reviewer, its absence is a boon and not a hindrance. Thing go completely out of the door with the insane shenanigans of Graveyard Boogie, a track that wouldn’t be amiss on something like ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, it is ghoulishly brilliant! Traveller is imbued with potency, a hard edged offering that ventures into heavy metal territory without ever forgetting its roots in the progressive side of things. Things come to close with the epic Hope Song II which is a thunderous romp that barely pauses for breath, taking you on a spirited and potent journey through all that is good about this band.
‘Fountains’ delivers on every level, a brilliant collection of songs that engages the listener and immerses them in TDW’s rather intriguing world. As a creative force in the progressive metal arena, there aren’t many who exist at the same level as Tom De Wit and that is evident in every note of this captivating and absorbing release.
Released 26th November, 2021
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