As this year has been a strange one to say the least, artists are having to think on their feet to flex their creative muscles.
Daniel Tompkins has a healthy body of work to draw from with TesseracT, Skyharbor, and White Moth Black Butterfly. However, he’s reimagined the contents of his debut solo album proper, ‘Castles’, into a completely new style for his latest solo offering, ‘Ruins’, which sounds closer to TesseracT sonically when compared to the more synth and keyboard-driven ‘Castles’.
We begin with ‘Wounded Wings’, which is a reworking of ‘Black The Sun’. The song builds impressively enough, and is a clear blend of styles, with a stellar guest guitar solo from Plini to boot.
The title-track has a calming piano opening with a solid chorus. However, despite the dexterity on show as usual, it feels like something’s missing. Tompkins is undoubtedly a very talented vocalist and musician, and has harnessed his abilities greatly on previous material.
But, unfortunately, there’s a general lack of character, punch, and just general oomph at times. This could be down to the very clean and polished-sounding production, or the fact that he may need his bandmates in TesseracT or his other projects for these songs to have a bit more power, which is more the shame as these are clearly well-crafted and arranged.
This album isn’t without its positives, though. There’s some atmosphere and some Maynard James Keenan-esque vocals in ‘Tyrant’, and there does feel like a lift during ‘Stains Of Betrayal’, and there’s enough of a groove in the chorus to keep you interested. Unfortunately, though, for reasons alluded to earlier, you may occasionally find yourself drifting off or wanting to focus on something else.
‘Sweet The Tongue’ (a reworking of ‘Limitless’) has some interesting drum programming and a harmonically rich chorus, with Tompkins harnessing the aggressive side of his vocal prowess later on. ‘A Dark Kind Of Angel’, again, starts promisingly, but unfortunately falls into the similar trappings of before.
‘The Gift’ is the best offering here though, bolstered by the guest appearance of Trivium‘s own Matt Heafy, who must have an incredibly long list of bands who he’s collaborated with by now. The synth work in the verse and the memorable chorus elevates this song significantly, and with both Tompkins and Heafy delivering some impassioned screams and complimenting each other greatly, we at least have an undoubtedly strong number to close the album on.
The talent of Daniel Tompkins remains clear for all to see, and he’s already delivered some great work in the past. But, perhaps, re-working existing songs may not quite be among his strengths just yet. Whatever he does next will still have intrigue.