Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey "How Saint Francis Tamed the Very Fierce Wolf of Gubbio"
Ben Collins, the sole member of Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey, is a guitarist from Atlanta, GA who wears his influences on his sleeve, as well as his press release. On his limited CDR release ?How Saint Francis Tamed the Very Fierce Wolf of Gubbio?, Collins consciously attempts to meld the singular guitar techniques of Keiji Haino and Loren Connors with oft buzzed-about genre of drone-metal (which the press release claims he?s heard about but somehow never heard).
?How Saint Francis?? is a 39-minute mini-epic recorded that can be divided into three pieces. The track begins with the Haino homage. Collins is an undeniably adept guitarist, and anyone familiar with Japan?s dark master of the axe would be able to pick up on the influence even without the label?s suggestion. For nearly ten minutes, Collins aptly tears at his fretboard with abandon and lets his disjointed chords smolder into oblivion.
Once Collins is through with Haino, the disc begins to lose its momentum fast. The Fushitsusha riffing subsides for screeching, high-pitched feedback that feels like it lasts an eternity. The track then plunges into the drone-metal portion. To little surprise, Collins lets the same, low note ring out and feedback for nearly twenty-five minutes. Due to the low fidelity of the recordings, it sounds like ?The Grimmrobe Demos? played through laptop speakers. Things go from tedious to unexpectedly worse when drums suddenly kick in, providing clatter and even blast beats that add little to the atmosphere.
The drone eventually gives way to welcome, ghostly blues riffing?sounding like Connors at his sparest?but at this point it?s too late. Well over half the disc?s running time has already been wasted on a contrived attempt at an already oversaturated style. On ?How Saint Francis??, Collins shows that he has talent as an improvisational guitarist in the first and final portions of the disc. It?s unfortunate that the second, and longest, portion is so far off the mark.
And if Collins has truly never heard drone-metal, someone really needs to do him a favor and pass him a copy of ?Earth 2?. 5/10 -- Franklin Teagle (18 March, 2008)