Parts of this review’s contents comes out of a conversation I had with Dale Thompson through Facebook messenger on the 5th of May 2020 where I put forward a couple of questions to him regarding the release. Therefore it’s a longer review than I would generally write for an album.
There are certain things in life I will admit that get me quite excited, one being the acquisition of new music; or the sound of an awesomely tuned American V8 muscle car. This excitement includes the opportunity to review another project of which Dale Thompson has been involved with. Therefore it will as no surprise to the reader that I am a huge fan of Dale’s vocals and regard him as one of metal music’s top vocalists, and certainly one of music’s more stylistically original vocalists in the industry. Also if you look beyond his contributions to Bride you will discover his not afraid to explore new ground in music. Sure those projects might not be everyone’s cup of coffee but nevertheless each project on their own deserves a level of respect and highlights the versatility and depth of Dale’s creativeness as a well rounded musician. So as I said I was a little fan giddy when receiving the latest project to pass through his hands, but however this does not mean this project gets off lightly at all. In fact it means I really dial in deep to give you the reader the most honest and down the line review I can because of my musical expectations of the man and the individuals that are involved alongside him on this project.
The new projects is called The Thomas Thompson Earth Project and the debut album from this talented group of musicians under review is entitled, ’Dreamland Lovecraft’. Since Garret Thomas is the music writer and composer, mixing engineer and mastering engineer on this project, and that Dale’s grandfather was Thomas Thompson, Dale felt it would be fitting to use Garret’s last name and his grandfather’s name in combination with Thompson.
In fact the name of the band and album title is a good lead into the experimental and extraordinary nature of the album. Dale was originally sent what he considered to be electronic dance tracks and made the suggestion to make the music heavier. Dale loved the experimental sounds and wanted to keep the free flowing nature that Garret had originally presented to him. For Dale, The Thomas Thompson Earth Project was an outlet away from his other bands, Bride, Perpetual Paranoia, The World Will Burn and No Other God for some experimentation. For Dale, it worked and together with Garret have produced an original sounding metal album with all the bells and whistles. Also Dale’s writing partner Tiago James de Souza in Perpetual Paranoia and who plays in Hand of Fire added extra guitar work to the project, making for a strong collaborative team.
Released under Roxx Records, ‘Dreamland Lovecraft’ is a great album for the discerning metal aficionado who enjoys some experimentalism and progressiveness in the music they listen too. When you take a great multi-instrumentalist like Thomas Garret and meld his talents with the likes of Dale Thompson and Tiago James de Souza you are bound to get something wonderful however which way it’s infused. Just in Dale alone there is 4 decades of musical experience. There is a very dreamy/haunting feel to the sound of the album that is driven home by the heaviness of the guitars, allowing the lyrical themes to be embossed in a poetic ambiance. This is not an album that you listen lightly too, it is one that requires your full attention to fully enjoy and appreciate the artistic collaboration and stylistic montage that is presented to one. As with a lot of experimental albums that are generally themed based it has the potential to go over ones head if you are not attentive to the story being presented.
“The album quickly was titled Dreamland Lovecraft after the imaginative imagery and haunting themes. The Christian based lyrics are forthright and up front sharing gospel themes along with social and personal stories intermingled into one huge abstract picture. However in the forefront of this collage of poetry and audio menagerie is the theme of Jesus and His power to save.” – Roxx Productions
As good as this album is, it’s not an album that I believe that is just going to roll off easy to the average listener and I am prepared to be called out on that sentiment, and proved wrong. Gettin gg stuck into the songs themselves, one of the stand out qualities of opening track Lift Him Up are the guitar solos. I found with most of the songs on this release they come across big and like a well crafted classical song and with how the use of experimentation was utilized and crafted into the mix I found that the songs carry a very liquid form of interchanging movements. There is nothing worse to me when music is clumped and rigid allowing very little flow between the interchanging movements of a song, and the use of experimentation can make that all more difficult but I do feel the album succeeds in that area, and that largely comes down to track placement of each song.
One of my favourite tracks is, Beyond The Means Of The Machine, the title itself sounds like something off a Spizz Oil / Spizz Energi release, it’s a very poetic delivery in a almost spoken word format accompanied by wall of sound that builds up into quite a crescendo.
Down The Devil’s Throat has a very industrial dance feel that brings some nicely distorted guitars and a haunting solo at 3m19s. Lyrically it is delivered in a sloganeering manner. Oh My Soul kicks in the doors from the start following Down The Devil’s Throat with seamless delivery. It again features an industrial tone with more dance attributes to it. The driving drum beat keeps things driving throughout without getting too fancy. Actually for me it is one of the more easy listening tracks on the release.
Roll With The Punches pushes forth with the unconventionality that they have embraced on the album, and more than ever I get the sense with this track of the evolution of the original starting base of the music from a more dance origin and how it evolved and grew as it passed through the hands of the individual band members grown as they articulated the sound. I also get the sense from this album and the directional growth revealed on this release, that should there be a next release, the possibility of a heavier platform will be introduced.
For me one of the weaker tracks is There Will Be Blood…okay let me put it in context, I think musically it is a weaker track but by no means a weak song and also I believe the strength of this song lies in the lyrical message. My musical criticism base on this song is that I would have gone with a heavier guitar sound on this track.
The vocally strong, Soul Killers delivers in bucket loads of Dale’s vocal strength and he still manages to reach those high notes with shotgun delivery. The bellowing guitars add a haunting background painting for Dale’s vocal acumen. Love the movement change at 3m58s, again very experimental and a lovely haunting outro to the song in a very dramatic and cinematic feel. I have to say the song positioning is impeccable in that a lot of the songs flow in and out of each other fairly seamlessly and Firestarter is another example of that how it just seamlessly takes up the baton from Soul Killers.
As we head past the half way mark of the album we find another more spoken word song in, Live To fight Another Day. It has a very experimental delivery that could shadow a H. P. Lovecraft fictional tale.
Both Long Dark Winter and Music Is My Supervisor carry a similar feel and tone to them. Again we see the band journeying deep into the wayward waters of experimentalism with the music incorporating an industrialized feel to the songs with the heavy guitars feeding the backdrop of the haunting overlay of Dale’s vocals.
Eternity and Mercy is another track in my mind that has a dance backdrop to it that would set itself up as a dance track if not for the heavy guitar riffs that breaks the pop culture influences that simmer beneath its surface.
All That We Forget with its metal gothic overtones finishes off the album on a high, and some of parts Dale’s voice sent me down the path of comparisons to the likes of Alice Coopers dramatic vocals in a way. Dale’s vocals backed up by the schizophrenic sounding backing vocals really twist the song into an almost nightmarish searing tornado of sounds. I mean that in the best possible way.
You can hear each member of the band has injected their unique personality, passion and emotion into this extraordinary project in delivering a high quality product. The result being that I don’t want to call it a side project, as it takes away from the stand alone strength of the release.
The experimental nature or character of the album comes off both haunting and thoughtful. It is a departure from what one is use to hearing from the members of the band but does not take way from the artistic ground they covered here. If I am honest I don’t know how popular this album will be due to its experimental nature and thus some of its artistic brilliance would go a miss by some. Even for myself the album required a few listens before I really grasped the genius behind it. The music is often surreal and that might be best suited to a dark imaginative, yet lyrically it is further from it as its linking theme or message if you will is of Jesus and His power to save. In all this is a great extraordinary album from start to ending seldom missing a beat in its craftsmanship but it might for some need to linger in ones ears a bit to fully absorb and appreciate its contents. You need to savour its taste slowly like a good wine. All said I am thankful that overall I was presented with some new metal for 2020 that does not suck! It has been a bit dry out there this year as a whole for me, struggling to find metal that is both unique and different and at the same time good. In closing with talking to Dale Thompson he told me that he really does appreciate the support he has gotten over the many years of involvement in the music industry.
Rating: 8.5 /10
Written By Donovan de Necker
My favourite track: Beyond The Means of the Machine
- Lift Him Up
- Beyond The Means of the Machine
- Down The Devil’s Throat
- Oh My Soul
- Roll with the punches
- There will be blood
- Soul Killers
- Live To fight Another Day
- Long Dark Winter
- Music is my supervisor
- Eternity and Mercy
- All that we’ll forget
Record Label: Roxx Records
Release date: February 29, 2020
(This Limited Edition CD is a very limited pressing of only 300 copies housed in a jewel case edition with and a beautiful full color 8 page booklet.)
Garret Thomas: Keys, Guitar, Bass, Programming
Dale Thompson: Vocals
Tiago James de Souza: Guitar
Video for ‘Roll with the punches’
Video for ‘Down The Devil’s Throat’