CD Reviews

Ol Drake - 'Old Rake' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 07, 2015    
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There isn't a single substandard moment and yet the true standout sections are equally few and far between.

Having departed from the standard bearers of British Thrash (Evile), guitarist Ol Drake returns with a solo release that's sure to baffle many of his long term followers. Gone are the Metallic ear batterings of before and in their place comes an eclectic mix of guitar-shredding instrumentals. Aided by Fear Factory drummer Mike Heller, who puts in a towering shift, Drake sets about introducing this "about face" through the clumsily named 'Old Rake', where track titles such as 'Han Valen', 'Onions' and 'I'll Be Bach' (Get It?) give the impression that we've entered some sort of "comedy-shred" territory. In fairness there is a decent amount of levity in what's on offer, '...Rake' not being an album taking itself too seriously, and yet to underplay the talent and skill on show, even slightly, undermines what's being attempted.

As expected '...Valen' reminds of a certain Eddie Van Halen and yet there's also a strong whiff of David Lee Roth era Steve Vai, before 'Onions' hybrids Vai and Joe Satriani rather neatly. Already Drake's dexterity will have jaws scraping floors as frets blaze and solos sear, while 'Spaceship Janitor' turns the shred up to warp factor widdle. The latter is a pure Satriani-fest, played out at twice the speed and punctuated by "humorous" announcements, where the janitor of a spaceship is called to deal with all manner of mundane chores. In many ways this sums things up neatly, as well intentioned and superbly performed numbers slip frustratingly wide of the mark.

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Interestingly the only tracks which really come close to a memorable breakthrough are the slower chime of 'Emperor' and atmospheric sweep of 'An Absence', although even here there's a feel of heard it all before. '...Bach...' offers a Neo-Symphonic slant and 'Karma' the smoothness its title suggests, before Gary Holt (Exodus/Slayer), Josh Middleton (Sylosis) and James Murphy (Testament/Death/Obituary) all make appearances on the impressive 'Guitarists Playing Guitars' thus providing an album highlight in the process.

On a release where the desired effect is nearly attained, but resolutely out of reach, there isn't a single substandard moment and yet the true standout sections are equally few and far between. Unfortunately that leaves 'Old Rake' as likely to leave Evile fans with their head in their hands as it will fret-followers a little underwhelmed.

Steven Reid

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