Druid Cloak loves fantasy fiction and rap. His beats are played by the likes of Ryan Hemsworth and Sepalcure. He has been described as ‘elusive’ and ‘mysterious’ by a few websites, a questionable description for one who plays out on a regular basis, so only a throwaway promotional description. This is Druid Cloak’s third EP release done over the conceptual nature of higher fantasy and “organic connection.”
Bastion of the Sterling Thrones is likewise laced in concept and narrative, with the oh-so-elusive Druid Cloak pretty much detailing word for word a narrative of “a tale of rescue” and of romance as the hero fights to save his loved one from the clutches of evil. We are told precisely what is going on and this is hardly “elusive or “mysterious.”
Although as a writer, I enjoy a good yarn. But we should make up our own mind about what music is about, or at least the narrative should apply more intrinsically. While I do respect influences, we all have our own interpretation and for reviews, it’s about how messages are communicated. It’s questionable whether or not promotion can help or destroy the imaginative properties of songs. For the sake of this review, I will present the song from the artists point of view, and then I’ll give my take of it.
‘Archpriest’s introduces us to the vile nature of the story’s antagonist, the evil Archpriest. This interpretation is done through rattling jungle breaks, a smooth, bassy hip-hop roll, ‘Wooh’ voice stabs of varying pitch, male choir singing and melodic layers of synth that are more beautiful-sounding and not like introducing any evil character. It’s monosyllabic as an overall idea and not really on par with forecasted concept.
‘Sterling Thrones’ bassy boom-bap heralds a battle between good and evil, so you’d expect it to be a full jarring clanger, right? Instead, we are treated to the same rattling jungle breaks over an arpreggiated landscape of spacious and lush beats, done tastefully and in a way that doesn’t sound conflicting. Again, not on par with concept although nice.
Final track in this trilogy – ‘The Poultice’ – is angsty and wonderful with its slow and deep boom-boom-boom-clack woven with emotional female vocals and different melodic layers. I’m not even going to bother arguing that this track is actually a happy ending where the hero is reunited with his princess, as it doesn’t apply on any level to me personally. I loved this track, but the promo again tainted it for me.
The last two tracks are remixes of ‘The Poultice’ and ‘Sterling Thrones’, performed by Tony Quattro and Timbah respectively. They are well-handled, with the former track being given a fairly even electro-breaks treatment, and the latter firing off layers of UKG-style breaky beats clad in dark synth.
The album was musically sound (although hardly ground-breaking), but that promo, grrrr. As a music journalist, are we really expected to suck up and regurgitate it in different words? I hope not, cause otherwise I’m doing it wrong.
Released 9 September 2013 digitally and in limited clear vinyl.
Pre-order here: bit.ly/17pboaw