Tom De Wit may be one of those unique human beings who is a master of all trades and jack of none, being that he writes, produces and distributes all his own music as well as playing a plethora of instruments on each composition. Did I mention he performs the vocals on all these bombastic prog-metal creations too?
While I may delve more into the melodic side of progressive rock nowadays, especially those albums that have a more folk oriented hue, I do love myself a big old slab of powerful, majestic (and sometimes overblown) prog-metal and my old friend Tom certainly goes to 11 on all of those constituents parts!
Tom’s latest opus ‘The Days The Clock Stopped’ is an intensely personal concept album that details a dark trip through the human mind and body that he went through 11 years ago fighting a deadly bowel disease. This album details what it is like to be stuck inside your body and what that does to your psyche.
Next toTom writing the music and lyrics and helming the project, Tom was assisted by a host of guest musicians on this record ranging from big names and newcomers alike to bring his vision to life. Most notably, the inclusion of Aeon Zen/Annihilator’s Rich Gray as bass player, coproducer and mastering engineer cannot be understated. As well as the massive drum performance by Fabio Allesandrini (Annihilator) who raised the album’s intensity to the next level.
The album is a seriously intense musical experience and it goes a long way to conveying the pain, confusion and despair that Tom went through while fighting this horrible and invasive disease, never mind the fact that he almost died twice!
Thunderous drums and dynamic bass are at the core of everything and the ever forceful, potent guitar drives the story along, often at a breakneck pace, conveying the confusion and anxiety that he was going through at the time.
Crashscape, Clockstop – Insight X and Code of Conduct open the album with powerful assiduity before the monumental brilliance of Clockstop – Insight 2 threatens to blow you away with its heavy hitting majesty. One of the definitive highlights of the whole album is Tom’s exceptional vocal performance which is defined further by the ever so slightly less frantic (but no less impressive) Sleepless Angels, a lesson in how to write a sympathetic prog-metal track, if ever I heard one.
The bombast and grandiloquence returns in spades on the super-heavy roller coaster ride of The Pulse, one of the best prog-metal tracks you will hear in a long while. Thunderous guitars and drums imbued with a high level of pomposity combine with Rich’s elegant bass (with steel right at its core) and Tom’s sometimes thoughtful, sometimes violent vocal delivery to deliver possibly the finest track on the album.
Things take a more laid back approach on the classy Clockstop – Insight 3 with it’s intelligent orchestral tones before Rich’s bass gives an almost haunting opening to Death and Her Brother Greg before the track opens up into something much more direct and influential.
No Can Do is that thing that can make or break a prog-metal album, an exceedingly long epic and I won’t keep you in suspense, it is superb and the backbone to the story. Eighteen minutes of musical give and take, it has everything that makes such tracks great. A deliberate introduction gives way to suspense and a slow burning build up to the main course. Soaring vocals, interplay with a harmonised choir, intricate guitar playing, double pedal drums, a wonderfully calming piano-led middle section, this track has the lot and is another highlight of this ever more imposing album.
The album comes to a close with the heartfelt, conclusive musings of Clockstop – Insight 4 and its fine synth/guitar combination and then the beautiful closing track, Epilogue – A String of Repeats, an at times calming but ultimately uplifting end to what has been a deeply personal and intensive trip through one of the darkest times of Tom’s life but one that, ultimately had a positive outcome.
I know seventy-five minutes of bombastic, powerful and dynamic progressive-metal interjected with a few fleeting, thoughtful moments may not be everyone’s cup of tea but when it is done with skill and a hell of a lot of personal attachment, like it is here, you get a privileged insight right into the soul of a musician. Tom de Wit and his impressive cast of fellow musicians have given us a wonderful musical highlight in a world of chaos where the light at the end of the tunnel is only just starting to dawn.
“If you’re waiting until you feel talented enough to make it, you’ll never make it.”
― Criss Jami, Healology
There’s a very old and very wise saying that goes something along the lines of, “If you’re good enough then you’re old enough..”, don’t let other’s perceived conception of your youth hold back your talent. This can be applied in many walks of life and music is definitely one of them.
Tom De Wit may literally have just turned 30 years of age but this man already has a huge array of talents in creating and producing music and I’m always waiting with much anticipation to see what he comes up with next.
So when the CD & press release arrived for his latest project with TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. I couldn’t wait to immerse myself into it completely…
“After three years of self-discovery and hard musical labour, the next chapter in the musical story of TDW has arrived. ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ is here and it’s become an album of extremes.
After garnering success in the international (prog) metal scene for his 2014 album “Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To”, Tom de Wit (TDW’s main driving force) got back into writing mode. The original idea was to create a new release that would be different from his last album in stylistic sense but also lyrically and theme-wise. This album would become something of a sketchbook of emotional states of being that Tom had been witnessing the last few years.
The very first song that was written and completed was the 20 minute epic Lest We Forget which shows a new darker and more angry side of the TDW music. Combined with shorter songs like Dirge & Lovesong and the epics Monolith and The More We Remember, the album got into its final shape. With all these songs combined, the album had a structure and a flow that makes it one big experience that searches for the outer reaches of emotions and music in general.
The infinity symbol is crucial to the theme that lies in this album as the human life pattern never stops in terms of positive and negative experiences. As long as a person lives and feels, the cycle will continue.
With the ‘Cynic’ and the ‘Idealist’ playing the main roles in this album’s concept, one can see that these discs are both different in style and tone, but they form a unity as a whole. Forging the anithetic affiliation that is noted in the title. ‘The Idealist’ being a more melodic and symphonic orientated disc and ‘The Cynic’ being a more dark, brooding and metallic affair. This showcases both sides of the emotional spectrum within the music of TDW in a new way.
Once again joining Tom in this album, is a wide variety of guest musicians that all bring their flavour to the mix by adding solo’s and specific parts on the already existing music. But the most noticeable change is the inclusion of the brand new live-band Dreamwalkers Inc in the recording process. This band was formed to perform the TDW music live on stages and since their acoustic debut gig taking place at Progpower 2016, this band of people have worked with Tom to finish this TDW album and to put their own stamp on this material as well.”
The first song on The Idealist disc is the powerfully emotive epic The More We Remember which builds up from a low key start with some beautiful oboe from Nienke van der Kamp before a striking riff breaks out and gives the song more impetus in a symphonic metal style. This track ebbs and flows with some pretty impressive guitar playing and incredibly catchy riffs and the drums are pretty dynamic too. Tom’s stentorian voice provides a big vocal backdrop while he also takes things lower and more gentle too, showcasing his wide ranging voice. This is some stylish progressive metal with a fast paced tempo that interchanges with the moderate sections. There’s some virulent, mind bending guitar solos thrown in the mix by Bob Wijtsma that add a shot of musical caffeine among the dreamlike sections. It’s a song of many interesting juxtapositions, none more so than the addition of Radina Dimcheva’s vocalsas a stylish counterpoint to Tom’s more aggressive, masculine intonation. I’m a big fan of Tom’s music and he has really crafted something exciting here, like a fantasy novel set to heavy progressive-metal music.
Anthem starts with a thunderous riff and dominant drums with some suitably swirling keyboards driving things along. A dark, gruff vocal precedes the energetic vocals which lead up to a suitably bombastic chorus, yes a true ‘anthem’ indeed. The female vocals that complement Tom’s give a true symphonic metal edge to the track, it’s nothing new but it is done extremely well and I just can’t get enough of that really memorable chorus. There’s a huge wall of sound being created by these impressive musicians using incredible technical skill and melodic brutality, the screaming guitar solos being just one example along with Sophie Zaaijer’s violins and viola, it’s one hell of a ride and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that!
There’s a whole lot more of a relaxed feeling to Lovesong, a stylishly chilled affair of restrained vocals and guitar that just seems to float across your synapses leaving a trail of relaxation as it passes by. A wistful, almost nostalgic song that shows the great variety inherent in Tom’s song writing. He can create huge, powerful soundscapes but also music that touches you in your heart and soul and it’s the subdued and tasteful side of his personality that is on show here.
We close The Idealist with Monolith -The Ascent, a brooding and intelligent track that gets you thinking. I really like the way it builds up the suspense with some really creative music and Tom’s questing vocal. It almost has a magical air to it before it begins to evolve into something much more dominant and compelling. The edgy riffs and precise drumming add structure to the organised chaos of this true progressive metal track that’s awash with a real sci-fi aura, this is what I’ve come to expect from Tom and the impressive group of musicians he always brings together.
So, on to the second disc, The Cynic and we open with Monolith – The Descent. It’s said that this disc is more dark, brooding and metallic and it most certainly is, this track opening with a monstrous riff and choral voices before powering on with a mixture of resounding drums and weighty guitars. The vocals are properly metallic with some gruff style shenanigans thrown in too but they work well with the feel of this forceful song. It’s verging on heavy metal with a progressive twist and could seriously crumble mountains into little bits of gravel with its all-encompassing soundscape. If ever you needed a musical hangover cure then put this track on at a high volume and it will blow any cobwebs away with its relentless sonorous attack. Don’t let the little interjection of a quieter section that closes out the song fool you into a false sense of security, this is monumental metal at its best.
The next track Aphrodisia opens with a thoughtful tone, laid back, heartfelt vocals giving real pathos to the song. A world weary timbre enters Tom’s vocals and Martine Mussies’ cello provides succour. That feeling doesn’t last though as the track blows apart into a thrashing metal monster with energetic speed guitars and tirelessly animated drums. There’s barely controlled chaos erupting among the chord sequences here and it’s utterly enthralling, add in the keyboards that almost have a life of their own and it’s almost as if the song has come to life all on its own. The coruscating guitar solos from Dave Mola add to that almost alien feel with their vehemence and individuality. It’s a peculiar kind of prog thrash metal in places but one that has a keen perception at its heart, evident in the quite haunting close out to what has been a literally breath taking piece of music.
The shortest track on the whole album at just over 5 minutes, Dirge lives up to its name. A slow, almost funereal tempo and Tom’s hushed vocal over a calm guitar note give it a respectful overtone and Cailyn Erlandsson’s beautiful vocal, added to more of Martine Mussies’ cello adds an ethereal overtone of otherworldliness. A sombre and reflective song that leaves you in a melancholy and thoughtful frame of mind.
We finish this immersive musical journey with the riotous prog-metal epic that is Lest We Forget, a track that is on the front foot from the off and never lets up. The staccato, aggressive riff gets right under your skin and is matched by the relentless pugnacity of the drums. Tom’s vocal is demanding and in your face, it’s almost like Metallica on steroids having a jam with Dream Theater turned up to 11, especially on the primeval riffing. Take your pick on the solos, they are all incandescent and rather excellent and provided by Tommy Talamanca, Mendel bij de Leij and Frank Schiphorst and add even more flare to what is already a huge behemoth of a metal song. I’m not a huge fan of demonic vocals but Sascha Blach actually adds something hair raising to the song with his. This song is massive rollercoaster of a musical experience and one which rarely lets you stand still and then not for long. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it, Tom goes off in a different musical direction but it doesn’t take long to catch up again, just hold on for your life and enjoy the ride as you roll along lifted up by the ferocious riffing. This song is twenty minutes of pure musical theatre as Sacha’s growling character delivers another monologue punctuated by a savagely potent guitar solo and then the riff fest fires off into the distance again only to be held back by a calm and collected acoustic guitar accompanied by Tom’s composed vocal. The music never lets up in its brilliance and diversity, who’d expect Thomas Cochrane’s almost Mariachi like trumpet and trombone to appear in the middle of this rollicking metal beast? Not me but it works and it works really well. Anyway, I’m going kick back and just enjoy the last two minutes of the song as it closes out in a magnificently ebullient fashion.
I’ve always been a fan of Tom’s music and his endless desire to re-invent himself and create something new. ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ is his most ambitious work to date and he certainly doesn’t hold anything back. Intelligent songwriting and superb musicianship delivered by a talented cast has made this a musical experience that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. To be fair, you need a few listens to really appreciate this lengthy musical work and, no, it’s not perfect but it’s as close to a progressive-metal masterpiece as you are likely to hear anytime soon.
“Can you expect to cure an itch, when you are wired to the core to revolve ’round it?”
A question that symbolizes the way it sometimes feels if you long for something dearly, but society just blatantly says ‘no’ to your face. This sentiment of frustration, disillusionment, anger and sadness forms the foundation for the brand new TDW songs featured on the ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’
Tom de Wit has helmed his TDW project for 13 years now, starting writing his first music at the age of 16. The proper start was made with 2008’s release of ‘The Haunts’, Tom’s first real album. After releasing multiple albums in its wake, 2014’s ‘Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To’ was a record that showed the diversity and intent of this musician’s output. Showcasing that the music of TDW could be intense, layered and heavy at one moment and intimate small and fragile at others.
The ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’ is a special release, part of a pre-ordering campaign that started in September of this year. This is a supporting campaign for the upcoming TDW album ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’, slated for an April/May 2017 release.
The four tracks on this E.P. are completely finished but will also change in their final incarnations on the album. More layers will be added and more nuances will be put into the final versions. Therefore, the songs on this E.P. sound genuinely different to what the final album versions will sound like. This E.P. is a gift for those who support TDW and the musical concept it stands for.
TDW are Tom de Wit (vocals, guitars and synths), Lennert Kemper (guiatrs and vocals), Vincent Reuling (synths and vocals), Hanna van Gorcum (violin, vocals), Peter den Bakker (bass) and Rik Bruineman (drums).
Guests on the E.P. are:
Radina Dimcheva – Vocals on Aphrodisia
Cailyn Erlandsson – Vocals on Dirge
Dave Mola – Guitar Solos on Aphrodisia
Sophie Zaaijer – Violins & Viola on Anthem
(picture by John van der Zee)
The opener on the E.P. is the title track Aphrodisia and it has a very calm and collected introduction with laid back music and delightful, hushed vocals of Tom de Wit and Radina Dimcheva overplaying each other with some lovely harmonised sections. The violin adds a particularly classy touch to the song and you feel that you are drawn along upon a lulling wave of emotion. This is the calm before the storm though as the guitars crash and the keyboards roar and the blue touch paper is lit! Bang!!! off we go on a powerful maelstrom that flings you forward through the sheer forceful power of the music. Excellent riffing and the dynamic voices of Tom and Radina give the song a real energy before we break into a keyboard section that Jordan Rudess would have been proud of. The technical instrumental sections have real virtuosity and skill at their core, proper progressive metal at its best. Trun the volume right up and enjoy the frenetically challenging guitar solo from Dave Mola that follows, this track has it all in spades! I love my mellow pastoral prog but every now and again you need music that just blows the cobwebs into next year and this delivers big style! Then a complete turn around and a beautiful closing to the track as Tom’s vocals deliver a wonderfully winsome ending.
This segues nicely into the melancholy and sombre feel to the opening of Dirge, a song that feels like a lament from the get go. Cailyn Erlandsson’s vocals add a wistful loveliness to the track and, yet, you cannot get away from that feeling of sadness that pervades all. The piano and delicately strummed acoustic guitar add a keen sorrowful edge to the fragile beauty at the heart of this song. A pensive, wistful track that leaves you in a nostalgic mood, looking back at what may have been, the fading glory of the past.
Anthem strides out with a bombastic glee, a thunderous riff and powerful drums powering this enigmatic song right into centre stage. Progressive metal tinged with a bit of power metal, forceful, compelling and dominant, with a guitar sound hewn out of graphite and drums that could fell mountains. The compelling, anthemic chorus adds a nice counter-balance to the mightily potent verse and weighty feel to the music. The guitar solo is mad, manic and, ultimately, a hell of a lot of fun and the way the track closes out is just sublime, I must have put this track on repeat about four or five times with the volume turned up to max, sod the neighbours!
The final track on this excellent E.P. is the electronica tinged Lovesong with its sci-fi sounding keyboards that open proceedings. Tom’s vocals are heartfelt and full of a laid back honesty. I really like the feel of the song as it is completely different to the rest of the tracks on the E.P. It just goes to show the diverse skills that this talented musician and his cohorts have. It is a song that puts you in a thoughtful and pensive mood and the use of Hannah’s soulful violin is perfect as it interchanges with the tender notes of the piano. A real change of pace for TDW that shows a graceful subtlety to their music and one that I hope makes an even bigger contribution to the new album.
So you will have to pre-order TDW‘s new album to get your hands on this little gem of an E.P. and I have to really emphasise the fact that you should. On the strength of these four very varied tracks, the new album is going to be something special indeed and, as a stand alone release in its own right, the ‘Aphrodisia E.P.’ is well worthy of being in your collection, the guest vocals of Radina and Cailyn adding another exciting dimension. Tom de Wit continues to impress me with every new turn in his excellent career.
E.P. released 19th September 2016 only with pre-orders of ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ which will be released April/May 2017.
After giving hints and build-up through the social media channels, TDW now unveils the pre-order for the brand new TDW album that is planned for early 2017!
The following trailer explains everything:
The new album will be entitled ‘The Antithetic Affiliation’ and will become a two disc musical experience. One CD of this package will become an intense, metallic and dark disc and the other CD will hold a lighter, open and more melodic atmosphere. This album will also include a bonus DVD with the ‘Making of’ the album, interviews about everything TDW related and live performance material from the debut performance of Dreamwalkers Inc at ProgPower Europe 2016!
To make this pre-order more interesting, a host of special merchandise has been created to accompany it. A new EP has been released entitled ‘The Aphrodisia EP’. This EP features four songs that will come out on the new album as well, but in specially produced versions for this EP. The song ‘Anthem’ (which was released earlier this year) is also included on this EP.
The EP features this tracklist:
Next to the aforementioned EP, a special T-shirt design has been launched to accompany the pre-order. This shirt design will only be made during this pre-order run, so get one fast or miss out! Shirts are available in sizes S-XXL in Green or Sand color with a front and back print.
Both the EP and shirts can only be ordered with one of the pre-order packages. Check the Layered Reality Webstore link belowto see which packages are available:
The gig will take place on the 29th of September at Castle de Berckt in Baarlo (NL). Attendance to this concert will be free of charge and this will be the first time that Dreamwalkers Inc will perform live. The band will then perform an acoustic set of old and new TDW material and this is proving to become a diverse show!