It’s been a long time since I reviewed something out of the
label, Bad Elephant Music. Back in 2013, I listened to one of the most mind-blowing
artists to come out of the label named Tom Slatter. His third studio album, Three Rows of Teeth, was a combination
between early Genesis, Caravan, and William D. Drake. And I gave it a glowing
review along with his other two; Through
These Veins and Black Water. And
then I had completely forgotten about him. Until now.
His latest release this year Escape, deals with escapism. Slatter took inspirations from comic
books, sci-fi novels, computer games, and being an indoor kid. Slatter is
bringing more stories to life again as an imaginative movie brought to life. So
has it been a while? Oh yes. So let’s get straight to his new album.
From the moment Time
Stands Still opens the album off, you hear these static sounds coming from
the TV while blistering guitar riffs channels a thrashing attack in mid-tempo arrangement.
It channels Diagonal’s sole self-titled debut album that Tom had picked up for
inspiration as his eerie stories structure in more Mellotron’s to float in at
the right moment.
It goes through this Ayn Rand-sque waltz channeling both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged with a folk-dystopian
midsection as the machines take over the entire planet. And then it back to the
metallic forefront with an orchestral vibe as Tom tips his mad hattering hat to
early Black Sabbath and the first two Iron Maiden albums with arpeggiated
textures brought to life.
Too Many Secrets has
these electronic hay-wiring effects going chaotic as it tells the story of a
group of soldiers who are in a rocket ship flying to another planet, fighting
one of the bloodiest wars that’s going on. And the question that remains, is it
worth fighting this stupid war that’s happening? Not to mention the dooming and
sludging atmospheres that he brings to the kitchen table.
Let’s All Pretend reminisces
between William D. Drake, Present, and Osanna’s Palepoli thrown into the blender. It’s Rock Progressivo Italiano
meets the Rock In Opposition movement with a nod to the late, great Roger
Trigaux’s guitar section while Rats becomes
a Punk-Folk attitude.
Fast-sped drums followed by guitar melody, the unexpected
time changes go from one corner of the living room to another. You can hear Tom
channeling Bowie’s Outside-era as he
picks up the pieces where Detective Nathan Adler had left off. Collateral is a psychedelic swinging
garage rock dance. It becomes a dance to the death between Be-Bop Deluxe’s Futurama sessions as it climbs aboard
Gentle Giant’s train chugging 500 miles per hour.
Going Nowhere is a
19-minute sci-fi opera brought to life. You can hear a Beefheart-sque
introduction that makes Tom’s train turn into a fast-speeding overture. There
is some Edgar Allen Poe structures for the main character’s death to happen
with these guitar-organ sound that is completely unexpected, but works very
Not only there’s a ‘60s guitar on a tightrope, but he’s
continuing where Rush had left off during an extension of Cygnus X-1 Book One: The Voyage. And then, he makes it a joyful
walk before it gets even heavier as Tom fires more missiles by raising more
hell than ever before.
Tom then also returns back for another Italian Prog dinner
from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso’s Darwin period
to I Giganti’s Terra in Bocca. You
can the sound of a carousel organ come to life as Tom brings the steampunk
audiences to a standstill as the story gets even more dangerous.
Escape is Tom
Slatter’s nightmare brought to life. He is still our storyteller brought to
life again, following in the footsteps of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Rod Serling,
and Vincent Price. And I hope that I will hear more from him in the years to
come during these tricky times we’re living in.