Friday, June 3, 2016

Fates Warning : " Theories of Flight"

What is up with 80s metal. Did I just time travel? I think I am reviewing one come back after another, it seems almost every week this year there has been a classic metal band holding their weight with another new release. Throw Fates Warning into that pile. They have more original members than most. Though not their first singer Ray Alder is still on the mic and sounds pretty impressive for 48. Joey Vera might not be one of the original members and will always be a member of Armored Saint rather than Fates for me me, but he has been playing with these guys since 97 . The drummer is the newest blood as he hails from playing in the solo bands of both Rob Halford and Sebastian Bach.  For me Fates Warning is paused in my mind with "No Exit" , with this said I'm surprised with how the band has evolved with the times, this won't come as any surprise to fans of the band who have stuck around for the journey. Now singing while skilled requires an interest in prog metal or power metal. Not a full fledged yodel, Alder carries the ghost of the 80s rock gods with him.  Unlike James Labrie his voice doesn't automatically layer the song with a coat of cheese, but if this isn't your thing it might be a hurdle for younger listeners who grew up in another era metal.It's the only element of their sound that is dated, and sometimes the choice of melodies is more hard radio rock rather than metal. If you are a fan of guitar solos then this album will win you over there.

"SOS" has a riff that doesn't fall back into gallops or chugs, the chorus might be to AOR for me, but they avoid even playing to the 80s cliches of their legacy. The middle section continues to break the mold, expands their sonic spectrum. "The Light and Shade of Things" is a well played power ballad, with some great sounding guitar on it. The build reminds me of many metal band in the 90s who were trying to find their ways. To their credit I think what Fates Warning continues to do, is done in a manner that is more effective than what Dream Theater also seeks to accomplish. I think in part this is done because Fates Warning doesn't get to grandiose in their ambitions when it comes to song writing. Though midway into this song I realize it's ten minutes and begin to wonder what else can they throw into this song that is going to make sense. "White Flag" is heavier for this kind of thing leaning more in the Symphony X direction. They don't let up with "Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen" , It's syncopated groove is pretty aggressive for this middle road.

Things get much more progressive with the exercise in guitar that is "The Ghosts of Home". The vocals get a little cheese added to them when the harder guitar doesn't rein them in. There is a cool heavier Tool like riff, but the rule around here is cool riffs alone don't make a good song. The breakdown comes six minutes in, and finds the guitar continuing to shine the brightest even if it mean eclipsing other elements of the song. The title track typical of their brand of melodic progressive metal. The use of samples works well to add another layer. This album is well done, not sure if it is something I would listen to on a regular basis of if this kind of melodic metal steeped in classic progressive sound while being allowed to grow is the kind of thing you are into it's hard to argue against. I'll give it an 8 due to some of the cheese that comes with the territory.


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