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'Old Rake'
(Earache Records)
Out Now

Johnny Main

johnny main

ol drake

On 30th August 2013 Ol Drake, lead guitarist of British trash titans Evile, announced his departure from the band. The announcement, which came out of the blue, was timed only three months after the release of the band's fourth full length album, 'Skull', and before the band even had time to properly promote and tour the new songs.

Drake's reasons for leaving were that he wanted the simpler things in life – a family, house and most importantly, a steady income – something which is never guaranteed as a musician. The band had toured constantly since it's inception in 2004 and they were just on the cusp of making it really big when Drake made his announcement but, at the time, there were many who were saddened by his announcement but nonetheless admired his honesty in the situation.

Fast forward three years and it's apparent that although Drake gave up Evile, music certainly didn't desert his life as he has unveiled his first solo album. Titled 'Old Rake', Drake's obviously put a lot of time and effort in deciding what he wanted to do and in which direction he wanted his career was to go and he's ended up producing a masterful piece of work with the help of a handful of fellow musicians.

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'Old Rake' is a nine track opus that was mixed by James Murphy (whose previous credits included Death, Testament and Obituary) and features Fear Factory sticksman Mike Heller on drums throughout as well as a couple of guest musicians including current Slayer and Exodus guitarist Gary Holt along with an appearance from Josh Middleton of Sylosis.

ol drake

Of course, you get the customary clutch of fast songs, and these really kick off the album. The peculiarly named 'Onions' along with the amusingly named 'Han Valen' show that Drake has lost none of his spark or his skill as he shreds his way through the songs. Holt and Middleton help out on the appropriately named 'Guitarist Playing Guitar' which is a standout track for me. The three have different technical styles but they all work well together and should be immensely proud of the piece as a whole – I only hope that one day these three will perform a live rendition of the track – now that really would be something special!

'Emperor' has a change of tempo and also a distinctly Japanese feel about it, with its slow and relatively simple sounding intro before the main guitar track starts. The guitar sound flows along nicely, taking it's time compared to some of the other more frantic tracks. 'I'll Be Bach (Get It?)' shows Drake's classical influence and if it's good enough for the likes of Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen, then why not Drake? He equips himself well, though the track doesn't linger longer than necessary, and coming in at just under ninety seconds long, it's by far the shortest track by some margin.

'Karma' is the token acoustic number with simple drums from Heller adding a bit of colour. The track proves Drake's talent is without question and he's as proficient on the acoustic guitar as he is on electric, with this particular piece being a real highlight of the album for me. 'The Rake Waltz' which follows, has a slow and moody intro before the main guitar riff comes in. Heller plays a simple steady beat enabling the guitar to be the main focus, as you'd expect, but as the pace of the drums quickens so does the technicality of the guitar track before it climaxes as the track slowly fades out.

Album closer, 'An Absence', has an almost Pink Floyd feel to it with a floating guitar sound providing a very classy way to end the album. I honestly wasn't sure how this album was going to work out – I didn't want nine extended guitar solos, and I didn't get that either – but it's revealed itself to be a real gem. Let's hope that Drake decides to play a few low key gigs, in addition to his upcoming appearance at Bloodstock, to support this release as there are some great numbers here that I would love to see him perform live.

You can watch a teaser video for 'Han Valen' here:

You can see Ol Drake live here:

Thursday 6th – Sunday 9th August – Bloodstock Festival, Walton On Trent

'Old Rake' Tracklist:
Han Valen
Spaceship Janitor
I'll Be Bach (Get It?)
Guitarists Playing Guitars
The Rake Waltz
An Absence

Ol Drake's band:
Ol Drake – Guitars
Mike Heller – Drums

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