While many hope for new material from Saviour Machine, Eric Clayton has released what is in essence a solo album in A Thousand Scars, a gothic inspired view into his personal journey and struggles over the last years.
Any review of Eric Clayton material has to include the story of Saviour Machine, the legendary goth metal band formed in 1989 by Eric and his brother Jeff. Over the course of the band’s career, five studio albums were released, Saviour Machine I and II in 1993 and 1994 and then the Legend trilogy comprised of Legend I, II, and III:1 between 1997-2001. A self-described “unofficial soundtrack to the end of the world”, the Legend trilogy is four full-length CDs and over five hours of music, and yet the project remains unfinished. Saviour Machine is long and complicated story of label mismanagement, problems with business relationships of such a proportion that it would fill a book. Eric himself has dealt with personal and health issues over the years and became inactive in the music scene until be being drawn back in 2015, performing with Ayreon in Europe for a couple of weeks. This led to Eric and his brother Jeff covering David Bowie songs and soon other members of Saviour Machine were reaching out looking to collaborate on new material. After moving to Europe, Eric reached out to some Dutch friends to form a band he could play live with and the Nine was born followed by a string of festivals and club shows across Europe. In 2019 Eric Clayton and Nine began work on A Thousand Scars, produced by Devon Graves (Buddy Lackey, Psychotic Waltz).
A Thousand Scars is one of those albums that immerses you if you let it. The album deserves and really demands your full attention as there are so many important details found in the quiet parts. The first track “The Space Between Us” exemplifies this as it shifts effortelessly from soaring to quiet with nearly whispered vocals accompanied by a soft piano that becomes more prominent as the rest of the song fades away.
On the other hand, songs like “Revelation Mine” have that full deep, dark somber tone that pairs perfectly with Eric’s baritone voice. Instruments are a bit subdued in most of the songs with one seemingly standing out and melding with Eric’s vocals. In this case there is a relentless guitar that seems to fade in and out of the mix but when you listen carefully, you realize it’s always there, driving the song. Production on this album is basically flawless. Instruments are at once supporting players to Eric’s voice but also at the same time able to create a sonic atmosphere matching the tone of the vocals and the emotion behind the subject. This album is best listened to with headphones and/or loudly to overwhelm the surroundings. Throughout the album there is that underlying solid foundation rhythm section accented by some great drum work that at times seems separate from the rest of the mix.
Songs like “Where it Starts” while on one hand featuring a bass-driven rhythm section, also contrastingly have a haunting piano line throughout the song providing contrast and adding depths of texture to the overall sound. The layers of sound missed on the casual listen are really something that needs to be experienced. Similar to “Where it Starts”, a piano plays a key role in the overall sound of “In the Lines” and is something I missed on my first couple of listens where I was a bit distracted. “In the Lines” also showcases the variety of vocals layered into the tracks. In other tracks, Clayton makes use of choirs and children’s voices to add emphasis and additional feeling to the tracks.
While much of the album has a darker tone and feel, songs like “A Man’s Heart” are a definite contrast in tone while “The Greatest of These” concludes the dark journey with a near Southern gospel choir feel, bringing unending brightness and hope as the album concludes…
“And it speaks to me in the silence
And it sings with me in the sound
And it lives and breathes in the space between
In the hopes and dreams we have found…
Love is the healer – love is the light
Love is in everything – everything right
Love isn’t hateful – love isn’t blind
Love shall remain – love will survive
Love is alive…
In his return, Eric Clayton brings us a journey through darkness and pain to place of light and hope, along the way showcasing incredible songwriting and composition and solid arrangements that highlight both the gothic, baritone vocals but also the supporting vocals so expertly incorporated into the mix. At over 78 minutes long, this is a long album but one worth dedicating the time to listen.
Written by John Jackson
- The Space Between Us
- Revelation Mine
- Where it Starts
- In the Lines
- A Man’s Heart
- The Cages
- Chasing Monsters
- A Subtle Collapse
- American Whore
- Faithful Son
- New Man
- A Thousand Scars
- The Greatest of These
Eric Clayton (vocals)
Twan Bakker (drums)
Rob Dokter (bass)
Bas Albersen (guitar)
Ludo Caanen (keys)
Jeroen Geerts (guitar)
Release date: April 24th. 2010
Record Label: Independent
Video for ‘The Space Between Us’