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(73:43; Layered Reality Productions)
I have known Tom de Wit for a few years now and have always been greatly impressed by his work and style, which generally involves him telling stories in a truly progressive metallic style quite unlike any other. When we were talking about his next release, he asked me if I would say a few words about his music for the documentary which would accompany it, and of course I agreed, so for the third consecutive week here I am reviewing something where I have a presence. Knowing what the album was about, I felt obliged to play the accompanying DVD first, which not only incudes a lengthy interview, the uncut footage of those who were asked to take part, the music video for ‘Death and Her Brother Greg’, but a full-length documentary on Tom. Given he dislikes being the centre of attention, this must have been incredibly hard and personal for him, as those included in the interview are his parents. Here we discover about his mental struggles with high sensitivity, as well as the severe gastric issues he suffered which led to the insertion of a stoma, and Tom very nearly dying. The reason for having such a personal documentary included with the album, is that unlike other times when Tom has been putting himself into a persona, here he discovered when writing that he was no longer talking about a character, but instead was telling his own story. This is one of those releases where it is important to play the DVD before playing the music itself, as it adds a great deal to what the listener is hearing. Unsurprisingly, emotions run high through this album, yet somehow Tom keeps it together, giving his guests room to add their own touches to the material, which is as varied and non-standard as I have come to expect over the years. That it is progressive is never in doubt, but he also moves into the more theatrical area beloved of Clive Nolan, with the choirs definitely adding to the overall impact. It is an album which required the listener to pay attention, and all the lyrics are included in the booklet which contains full details of who played and sang where. This reminds me of the old days when one sat with the album sleeve and (hopefully) lyrics, and that is where the most benefit can be gained, really becoming involved with the music and living the words. There are times when this is considered, times when it is frantic (Marco Sfogli’s quick solo in ‘Clockstop – Insight 2’ is awesome), yet always it is designed to engage with the listener on an incredibly personal level. The music is dramatic, always searching and driving, and there are times when this feels more like a modern classical piece than a metallic masterpiece, but it is both. The line where Tom says “The moment I came to terms with my mental pain, the physical pain reared its ugly head” is almost whispered, and in total contrast to the maelstrom happening musically, demonstrating just what he was going through. Immensely personal, this is yet another stunning release from Tom, where he really has bared all and left nothing behind, even allowing his stoma to be visible in the video. This must have been incredibly draining for all those involved, as it is all so very real indeed. This is Tom’s life, his struggle, and he has put it out there for all to see in a stunning piece of music.
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