Going it alone within the music industry can be a frightening yet exhilarating venture to take on, which can open up the flood gates to an artist’s true potential outside of an already established dynamic that has captured the attention of fans across the globe for an extended amount of time.The risk taker behind this eerie road of self discovery comes from none other than the lead vocalist of the Milton Keynes native progressive metal band TesseracT - Mr Daniel Tompkins.
Breaking slightly away from the roots of the band that gave him notoriety, Tompkins’ debut album Castles sees a slight genre shift, with the incorporation of Electronica and Post Hardcore Rock sensibilities riddled across the entire record. With an all too well mentioned story arch revolving around “tragic mistakes, misjudgements of character and victorious passionate love”, you really wonder how Tompkins’ will breathe new life out of such recycled source material.
Of course the talking points surrounding love and heart ache are all valid, but the intriguing lyrical descriptions set your mind on fire with the in depth visual footnotes that can leave you imagining the intricacies of each situation as you progress through the album. Castles' journey starts on several high notes including its opening track ‘Saved’, which harbours a Twilight era IKO soundscape that would keep any emo fan on the edge of their seat, which is swiftly followed by an ominous Black Mirror style intro into an Arcane Roots inspired track ‘Black The Sun’ which tip toes its way around the discussion of a disenchanted and faded love affair.
Soon after the Haunting story recreation of Adam and Eve in ‘Kiss’, Zedd’s interpretation of Pagan Poetry era Bjork in ‘Limitless’ and the jump scare enticing audible delusion of ‘Cinders’, we are suddenly thrown off course via the oncoming cliff edge, which unfortunately resembles Castles inspiration drop off.
Usually a records fundamental intention is to move the narrative forward in an effort to show some sort of progression in regards to an individual’s state of mind when discussing such topics as relationships and emotional turmoil. In this case however it feels as if Tompkins ran out of steam half way through the writing process then proceeded to invite various respected producers to include remixed filler tracks, which would have gone down marvellously if the Electric Daisy Carnival wasn’t postponed indefinitely.
The sudden shift from the albums trajectory is an odd one too, as it results in giving you a record that disjoints itself from its own flow. Most guilty of this is Randy Slaugh’s remix of ‘Kiss’ - which can only be described as Diplo chucked into a blender with a plethora of metal pots and pans.
Overall the album’s likeability is sure to be based predominately within the first part of the record’s exploration into its chosen subject matter. If the insistence on the word “album” wasn’t in full use in this scenario, instead operating under the banner of a debut EP and the remixed tracks were part of an Deluxe Edition released further down the road, the records favour as a whole right now would be that much stronger.
It’s especially disappointing how a record with so much potential can start on a tangent that leads its promising opening tracks that truly captured your attention, down a slippery slope that veers away from what truly made it a great first impression for this talented solo artist.