Druid Cloak Bastion of the Sterling Thrones
Nameless North American producer Druid Cloak has been slowly building his profile over the last year with a string of well-received remixes and dark, shadowy EPs. The three original tracks on Bastion of the Sterling Thrones, his third in a series of "location-based concept recordings," were inspired by a heroic narrative. As Druid Cloak explains, "It follows a young hero through a battle to save his true love from the grips of evil." This conceptual arc is bolstered by remixes from Bad Taste labelmates Tony Quattro and Timbah.
The first two originals are the strongest, and do the best job reflecting the producer's attention to detail. "Archpriest" kicks off the EP with a warped vocal loop and a heavy, rumbling groove. The track succeeds largely because of the careful spatial spread, despite the fact that many of the timbres chosen harken back to a dated witch-house aesthetic. The following song, "Sterling Thrones," utilizes '90s-sounding orchestral hits against skittering percussion and a blooming arpeggio to reach a very pleasing climax. The track carefully transitions into a militaristic handclap breakdown and an epic choir backdrop that certainly feel soundtrack-worthy.
The final original track and the EP's two remixes don't fare as well, largely due to the producers' choice of sounds. "The Poultice" relies on trap-inspired percussion treatments and a naked, pitched-up vocal sample that makes it feel more like a production exercise than a full-fledged track. While both remixes are certainly functional—Timbah's grimey take on "Sterling Thrones" is particularly admirable—they feel tacked on due to their drastic stylistic variation. While it's not uncommon to include remixes on an EP to bolster appeal, Bastion Of The Sterling Thrones's concept feels diluted by their inclusion.
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